Patricia, 74, has no plans to retire from Harbor Cafe

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When Patricia bought Harbor Café at 35, she never imagined it would still be in business 39 years later.

Growing up in St Andrews, she always had a love for the town and despite moving to Edzell with her first husband and three sons, she was desperate to return.

When her mother told her that the building was going to be put up for sale, Patricia saw the café as an opportunity to serve the community while spending her time at the port.

Patricia Dodds (74) at the Harbor Café in St Andrews which she has run for 39 years.

Now separated from her husband, Patricia moved back to St Andrews with her sons and partnered with her mother to buy the premises.

39 years later, she is the sole owner and runs the cafe with four employees, including one of her great-granddaughters.

The years have passed

It has been a family affair at Harbor Café as over the years all of Patricia’s sons have worked in the venue, as have her granddaughters and now her great-granddaughter.

When Patricia became the sole owner four years after acquiring it, she explained that the years had passed her as she continued to run the place while building a new life with her second husband.

Outside the cafe.

She said, “I don’t know what happened, it just ricocheted.

“The years just passed and life took over with me taking care of my sons, my late mother my late husband who was a fisherman at the port.

“And now here we are 39 years later.”

Part of the community

Since the café has been open for so long, Patricia got to know the fishermen of the port and the people who work there.

She says she knows everyone at the port and has become a gem in the community herself.

She said: ‘We are not just a cafe selling toys, beach items and food, we collect packages for fishermen and if there are any problems we try to help.’

Inside the cafe.

Despite the challenges of running a place like hers, Patricia still enjoys serving her food every day and says it’s her love for the people and the port that keeps her going.

She said: “I’m such a social person and her coffee has allowed me to meet people from all over the world.

“And I love the port, it’s such an idyllic place.”

With customers varying over the years, Patricia says this year she has found that it is larger groups who come to visit her cafe, rather than individuals or couples.

What’s on offer at Harbor Cafe?

The food available hasn’t really changed over the years, with customers going for a quick and easy bite to eat.

Choices include fries alongside fish, sausage, and eggs. Baked potatoes, homemade soup, ordered lobster and sometimes crab can also be enjoyed.

Patricia also sells hot drinks, juices and ice cream so visitors can sit down or take their food and drink to enjoy on the beach.

harbor cafe
Staff member Skye Carver, 18, serving breakfasts to guests.

Patricia being the only cook, she never takes a morning off and is always at the cafe preparing delicious dishes. Hard work and transplanting is in Patricia’s blood as the place is open seven days a week from 9:30am to 7pm and she even does all the heavy lifting herself.

She said: “People often ask us what’s in our fish paste and we tell them it’s a secret recipe.

“But we don’t really have a secret recipe, it’s all in the hand and the flexibility of the hand that makes it.”

Although she would like to serve more crab and lobster, having only a small kitchen, Patricia says she does not have the facilities to offer more than they already have.

Future plans

Despite the busy lifestyle of catching fish in St Monans and visiting Dundee cash and carry for items, Patricia isn’t planning on retiring anytime soon.

She said: “I would love to go on a little longer, but maybe a little less.

“Maybe have one morning off a week.”

Outdoor seating area.

With 12 seats inside and 24 seats outside, Patricia would like to expand the port cafe and provide a shaded area for those who sit outside.

She said: ‘The marquees they use in town wouldn’t withstand such a strong wind from the harbour.

“We would need something much more solid to hold that!”


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