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The Steading Bar in Strathdon is reinventing the traditional Scottish pub with a welcoming atmosphere and alcohol-free options

The bar has become the new beating heart of the community.

The Steading Bar is a cosy pub in Aberdeenshire. Image: The Steading Bar
The Steading Bar is a cosy pub in Aberdeenshire. Image: The Steading Bar

When Strathdon’s village hotel closed, it took the bustling pub at its heart with it.

Lynne Lino and her husband had bought the building – that had fallen into disrepair – with the intention of creating something new in its place.

But while renovations are under way, they knew they needed to provide locals with a space to come together.

And so The Steading Bar was born in an old steading building by the hotel.

Monthly brunches go down well. Image: The Steading Bar

We chatted to Lynne about the bar’s place in the community and her hopes for its future.

What took you to Strathdon?

We bought Candacraig House – which used to be Billy Connolly’s castle in Aberdeenshire – in 2014 so moved to the village and got the hospitality bug, my husband and I.

I run Candacraig so I was doing events there and decided I wanted to focus more on a hotel type of environment next, because Candacraig is exclusive use only.

Pie and a pint anyone? Image: The Steading Bar

We looked at various hotels in Aberdeenshire but then we saw one in the village that needed a lot of renovation. We decided to go for it, but because it was in such a state of disrepair we had to almost immediately close it down.

How did The Steading Bar come about?

When we closed the hotel, we realised we had taken away the only community hub, which was the pub. They have the Lonach Hall but that’s more event based so the pub was something the locals loved and we felt bad that it was going to be a multi-year project and they wouldn’t have it during that.

As part of our buildings there was a beautiful old steading that was just calling our names, so we thought ‘we’re going to turn this into a pub’.

What was that process like?

We got all local providers to help us renovate it and we opened in June 2019.

It’s the cosiest, loveliest little thing. It’s up a little hill so you don’t really know what you’re driving up to.

It’s really quaint, we used a lot of recycled components in it too. We have a big log in the middle of the room, suspended from the ceiling with lights wrapped around it, we just found that log outside.

The contractor we used handcrafted the bar and the bathrooms, he used a burning technique on the wood to make it look older. Beautiful craftsmanship went into it.

What does the pub mean to the community?

We opened it because we saw that need in the community for families and friends to get together.

The Steading Bar welcomes locals and visitors alike. Image: The Steading Bar

We’ve been told over the years that there are a lot of farmers in the area and that the pub is their way to meet other farmers and to bring together multiple generations.

The locals are very supportive of us, we see the same faces coming in all the time and we’ve got to know them personally.

We know their drinks now when they come in, and I think that’s why they love coming to us, because they get that friendly service.

How does The Steading Bar differ to the old pub?

The hotel bar was one of those old fashioned public bars that when you walked in, everyone stopped what they were doing and swung their heads round.

It was patronised by a handful of people, but now we’ve created a family pub that you can bring your kids and dogs to on the weekend, where tourists come when visiting the area.

Lynne with her husband Marc and daughter Mattea

We’ve opened it up to people who wouldn’t have dared walk into the old pub. I’m proud that we’ve created something that is welcoming for everyone – you could walk in in a boiler suit or fully dressed up and you’ll feel comfortable.

What kind of food do you offer?

Our food is all as local as we can possibly get. Adrian Gomes is our business partner in this and from day one he was very solid on the fact that we weren’t going to be a greasy spoon cafe.

It’s things like artisanal pies that a farmer would love but that a tourist who lives abroad would also find delicious. We also do soups, chili and nachos, grazing boards, Scotch eggs, we recently added a cheese fondue too.

Sausage rolls are popular. Image: The Steading Bar

Our food is local, independent producers, quality bar food. We unfortunately have a tiny kitchen so we don’t do full meals, but we’ve done a good job of creating a menu that is as varied as we can do.

I’m gluten free and vegetarian, so once the menu is created I get a look in and we try and cater  for everyone.

What about drinks?

I don’t actually drink, it’s hilarious to the locals that the owner of the pub doesn’t actually drink.

As a result, we have a fantastic non-alcoholic section too, gins, beers, wines, sparkling wines. It’s important to us not to just offer water or a fizzy drink.

It’s a rural pub and not everybody wants to drink, or they might be a designated driver. Some just want to go out for afternoon and just have a cold drink.

The bar is fully stocked. Image: The Steading Bar

It’s interesting how the world is changing, when I grew up in Scotland everyone drank, but there has been a change in mindset.

What is your favourite thing to order?

I have my special Pentire non-alcoholic gin and tonic with nachos and guac.

What else do you do?

We do a brunch on the first Sunday of every month, either a boozy one or a regular one, just to mix things up a bit.

We also have a beer garden, it’s really nice to sit there and look at the surrounding countryside and listen to the birds.

Visitors can enjoy stunning views. Image: The Steading Bar

One of the local ladies comes along and does live music too, and sometimes we get bands that have played along the road at a bigger hall on Sunday nights.

What challenges have you faced?

All our staff are local which is lovely because they can give tourists advice on the local area. We hire on personality more than skill.

It has been a challenge though, probably the top one, getting staff in a rural pub. Some of the youngsters in the village work in Aberdeen or work as farmers so they don’t necessarily have the time to work unsociable pub hours.

A small kitchen doesn’t stop the team producing cracking food. Image: The Steading Bar

What are your plans moving forward?

Where Steading Bar is there is a group of other steadings nearby. We are in talks with the community trust to figure out what the best use for them. They could be business units for rental, workshops, a doctor’s surgery, a bunkhouse.

It’s all exciting stuff, I’d love to snap my fingers and have it all there.

Find out more about The Steading Bar on Facebook and Instagram and at