Rialto has become an institution in Eyemouth but anyone walking past the high street eatery over the past week will have noticed some big changes.
What was once a cafe serving up tasty fry ups and traditional grub has now re-opened as a trendy coffee shop with an equally cosmopolitan menu to boot.
But don’t be put off by the word trendy, you can still be assured of a warm welcome and you won’t need a designer coat or latest model iPad to get in.
Just as his parents did when they had the business, Michael Howes wants to make Rialto a place where people can come to relax or catch up with friends. And he said he hoped that its new look would entice plenty of people in to take a load off.
“My parents did a grand job with the place but after taking over in 2012 myself and my wife Eilyn have been thinking about taking it in a different direction.
“We love food but we wanted to streamline the menu a bit and make sure that everything is freshly prepared on the premises.
“That’s why we wanted to get away from calling it a cafe. If you call yourself that people will expect you to serve up certain things and if you don’t it’s a bit of a letdown. We still serve food but it’s more light bites.”
Among the tasty dishes on Rialto’s menu is Michael and Eilyn’s take on a tradition from the land that brought us Sir Tom Jones but to make rarebit as Scottish as possible, ingredients include Mull cheddar and Belhaven beer.
Rialto’s menu might have been streamlined but its interior certainly hasn’t.
The back of the building,often overlooked by customers due to being hidden by a set of stairs is now a spacious seating area, made all the welcoming by a roaring fire.
“In the past people would look in through the front window, see all the seats taken near the door and assume there was no room,” Michael continued. “But now the back is much more visible and whereas before it could seat 11 people at a push it can now fit 22 in comfortably.”
The design of the new look Rialto was rather unorthodox to say the least. Michael and Eilyn joined forces with the woman responsible for the restoration of Eyemouth’s old mill.
However, she moved back to her native Australia just as plans were being put into action meaning the bulk of the correspondence has been done via email. “It was a very different experience having to communicate all the different instructions to the workmen from emails I got from Australia. I didn’t get much sleep the last few days before we re-opened but I’m just glad it’s all gone to plan now at the reaction has been so positive.”
Rialto’s launch party at the end of last month was attended by representatives from many local businesses with some taking to social networking sites afterwards to make their approval known.