An Ayr restaurant has been hailed Scotland’s best after fighting back from Covid restrictions.
Fox and Willow were named restaurant of the year at the illustrious Dram awards.
The popular dining spot on Carrick Road was given high praise for first class service and vibrant atmosphere as they were announced as winners at a glitzy bash in Glasgow.
It comes after the toughest 18 months of the restaurant’s four years in business with Covid restrictions and lockdowns hammering the industry.
Owners married couple Lauren and Allan Low have told how their big win means more after experiencing the lowest points throughout the pandemic.
The shocked bosses were joined by key staff including their head chef who all pulled together to secure the future of the Fox.
Lauren told Ayrshire Live: “We are still absolutely buzzing — it feels like all our hard work over such a challenging time was worth it.
“We honestly did not expect to win it at all. We just saw it as an opportunity for a good team night out — they have all worked so hard, so we thought win or lose let’s have a good time.
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“But when they announced we had won we were all in shock.
“We are on top of the world just now — it has just been amazing.”
The Fox and Willow were paid a visit by mystery diners who evaluated all aspects of the restaurant.
And the judges were blown away with the team scoring high across the board.
Lauren said: “Before they announced us as winners they revealed the scores which were just phenomenal for us.
“They said we were ‘always busy, had a vibrant atmosphere and nothing is ever too much trouble and service is first class’ before announcing Fox and Willow.
“To hear that just topped it off for us, it is everything that we have always wanted to be about, that was always our vision.”
Lauren admits there were times when the future of the Fox looked uncertain as waves of restrictions starting from March 2020 hammered the business.
But thanks to a real team effort and a incredible loyalty from customers old and new — she believes the venue has bounced back stronger than ever.
Lauren said: “At one point we were feeling so low as a business, we were wondering what was going to happen asking ourselves are we even still going to be here?”
“Since we have come back from restrictions we just have a new spring in our step — everyone has worked so so hard.
“We have definitely bounced back from everything stronger.”
The Fox and Willow boss added: “And a special mention to our head chef, Lauren Payne. It is an honour to have her in our kitchen as her creativity and cooking skills are next to none.
“To our general manager, Scott Conway. He works long, hard hours and is extremely loyal to Allan and me.
“Our full management team for their efforts as well as our front of house and chef team. Their loyalty and hard work does not go unnoticed.”
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