PEOPLE passing through Lumphinnans may have noticed a new face on the Main Street where the old Central Bar used to be.

Café 84 opened its doors a little over one month ago but it has already been creating quite a stir in the village and the surrounding area. The official opening night on 28th February was a real treat featuring music from local girl Carly Schiavone and 100 tickets were sold within just a few days.

Chris Herd (43) and Peter Ritchie (41) are partners in life and business and they are the co-owners of the charming wee addition to the Main Street.

Times reporter Ted Edmunds went along to find out what Central Fifers can expect at the community’s new facility.

Chris said, “I was born and bred in the village, my family are well-known here and we know everybody in the village. This was the only venue we could have created this in. Everybody knew it as the Central Bar, or the Tap Shop, and it was always a pub. The location and opportunity was a no-brainer.

“When it was the Central Bar it didn’t work as a pub. Personally, I think the image of old miners at the same seats with the same drinks for years has gone now. The feedback we got is that people don’t want TVs, pool tables and slot machines any more. They like places where you can get a platter and a few bottles of wine and we thought “we can do that in the village” and bring something into the community that’s a bit different.” Now aiming at the full range of age groups from school-run mums, pensioners getting their lunch and young couples enjoying a drink and a chat with dimmed lights and candles, Café 84 opens its doors at 9am Monday to Saturday and you’ll always find them open until at least midnight.

The Times asked Peter if it has been an easy process and he said, “The first 10 weeks were difficult. We’ve got both full-time jobs and give 100% commitment to those jobs. I work in a bank and Chris is general manager of a sales company.

“After work we were coming along and working until the early hours. We were at it every day constantly – Christmas Day, Boxing Day. Our Christmas was cancelled! We did everything ourselves but had two friends to help with the painting. We decorated and designed the whole place. It was definitely a labour of love and was nice to see everything come together.” Chris explained why so much work had to be done, saying, “It was dark inside – a typical pub. The floor was dark, the walls were dark and there were no real soft furnishings. Everything was wrecked including the carpet. It was dated.

“We wanted to brighten things up to be the kind of place you can just feel comfortable, take your shoes off, put your feet up and relax with a little bite and a few drinks.” Peter agreed, “We want people to have a good natter! We don’t want them to be having to view a TV or speak above music or be on the phone. We want to bring it back to basics so you can come in and have a conversation with someone. In most bars people are sidetracked with other distractions and nobody talks to anybody. Here, people will sit for hours and reminisce. It’s brilliant that the community support us and have great conversations – we learn from them.” One of the walls is adorned with a well-known old picture of miners’ row houses in the village that has proved to be a great talking piece. One recent visitor’s jaw dropped according to Chris and Peter when she recognised her father in the iconic photo. It has been pointed out to the owners that it must be a Monday in the picture because the washing is out! A nostalgic collage of old Lumphinnans is planned for any available wallspace featuring not just the mining history but also some questionable hairstyles from the 70s and 80s.

This month sees a bingo night in the café for 40 pensioners from the village who would otherwise have to go to Cowdenbeath or Lochgelly. Some have already been in and love the place according to the staff. Prosecco tea parties, quiz nights, hen nights, birthday parties, baby showers and even funerals are also in the pipeline.

The Times asked Chris if it has been a hard-sell but he claims it’s the exact opposite. He said, “The Facebook page has been phenomenal and people have been passing the word about. It’s been better than we initially thought. Even the youngest people, about 21, coming in with partners say it’s nice to get dressed up and have a conversation. People have been coming from outwith due to Facebook and that’s what we want.” Peter added, “We are a place where you can start off the night with a chat and a few drinks. We are centralised, have good parking, a bus stop and we are right on the main road. Why can’t we be a starting-off bar for girls and guys? The Facebook reviews have been phenomenal and as soon as your back is turned, people have their cameras out to take pictures of the food.” Other local bar owners have been giving Peter and Chris support and now consider themselves regulars. Café 84 would rather, as Chris says, have partners in the industry not competitors.

The co-owners are already seeing loyalty from their customers and often from the older generation. With a morning special of tea, toast and jam for just £1.50 it’s easy to see why. The ethos of not robbing customers and bringing something to the community is in evidence here on the Main Street.

Café 84’s menu is simple and doesn’t change from day to night. Food is prepared from when a customer orders – nothing is already made and simply heated. Chris travels a lot due to his work and has become accustomed to enjoying olives, dipping breads, salads, mozzarella and panini so this is reflected in the menu. The evening time sees meat and cheese platters served on rustic slate. Every month or so the menu changes but popular dishes are retained such as the haggis panini – highly recommended with jalapeños.

Chris said, “Everything is purchased locally as much as we can but there are limitations. Our food is seasonal too and we are trying to meet everybody’s requirements. Gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian will come one step at a time. We try and change the wines monthly or bi-monthly and introduce people to new ones. We live in a working-class ex-coalmining community where people don’t stray far. We want to bring something to them to try for the first time.” There are also no draught beers at the bar because the owners didn’t want to get tied to a particular brewery. They run a totally free house where they ask customers what they want to drink and then supply it.

Paying attention to detail with customers is paramount for the enthusiastic couple.