By Scott Wright

A SCOTTISH Masterchef finalist has recalled staff to his St Andrews restaurant from furlough after consumers responded enthusiastically to a luxury lobster and crab home delivery offer.

Dean Banks, a finalist in the 2018 edition of the BBC programme, was forced to temporarily close the doors at Haar when the country moved into lockdown, a little more than a year after first opening. Now he has welcomed staff back into the fold after a successful move into seafood home deliveries, with Haar now shipping nearly 500 dinners per week. With prices starting at £60 per box, orders are being dispatched to addresses around the UK.

Mr Banks said he initially planned to focus on supplying roast dinners but then realised that “didn’t reflect what Haar has to offer”. He said: “People want something to make their weekends sparkle and to celebrate special occasions, so we wanted to offer a fine dining experience and Scotland’s fabulous seafood was the answer on our doorstep. After quite a bit of experimentation and working out how to home-deliver a restaurant standard meal, we settled on the luxury lobster and crab box which are oven ready with optional champagne. And the response has exceeded our wildest expectations. We’ve grown from supplying 50 to 500 boxes a week in just a month with customers as far south as Bristol.”

Haar has now expanded its offer with a “surf and turf box”, initially conceived as a gift for Father’s Day. Mr Banks added: “It’s been fantastic to be able to take some of our dedicated staff back to work full-time and we’re now looking at additional new premises to continue the service after Haar is able to re-open.”

Meanwhile, bars and restaurants are reporting strong bookings ahead of the opening of beer gardens on July 6, and the full re-opening of Scottish tourism on July 15. Brel in Glasgow’s west end, which has a beer garden and heated outdoor restaurant, said it received more than 1,000 bookings within two hours yesterday.