From Dorchester to the Cally, Mark reckons he’s moving up

Mark Heirs outside the Callendar Arms
Mark Heirs outside the Callendar Arms

A Masterchef has been given the green light to refurbish a well-known town centre pub.

The Callendar Arms in Falkirk’s East Bridge Street closed on Saturday and is due to re-open in mid-April following a programme of improvements aimed at breathing new life into the premises.

The watering hole, which is more than a century old, will undergo a complete re-fit that will see improved seating and a new kitchen installed.

The refurbishment is being driven by Mark Heirs, who is taking over the running of the business from parents Alan and Val.

The couple, who took charge in 1996, will continue to work at the premises but are relinquishing its day-to-day operation.

Mark said: “I’ve grown up in the business. My family took over when I was in primary six - it’s been a big part of my life.”

The 27-year-old from Lionthorn is a trained chef and has worked in the kitchens of some of the most famous restaurants in the UK, including The Dorchester in London and The Fat Duck, owned by Heston Blumental.

He also appeared in the 2008 series of the hit BBC1 programme ‘Masterchef’, reaching the quarter-finals.

Mark moved back to Falkirk to cover for his parents when the regular chef at The Callendar Arms took maternity leave - and ended up staying.

He’ll now put his skills to the test by offering an improved menu in a bid to attract new customers.

Mark commented: “When the business re-opens we’ll be offering a superb new menu - I’m confident nowhere else in Falkirk will be serving food quite like it.

“Afternoon tea will be one of our signatures. Everything will be homebaked.”

Dating back to the late 19th century, the pub - known by regulars as the ‘Cally’ - has had various names over the years, including The Callendar Road Tavern, The Swiss Lounge, and Slick Chicks.

Its refurbishment has been two years in the planning, and was finally given the seal of approval by Falkirk Council’s licensing board at a meeting last week.

Councillors gave the green light to drinkers being allowed to sit outside the premises until 7 p.m, adding that they were very impressed with the proposals.

Mark is looking forward to ushering in a new era for the business, but stresses that it won’t be completely breaking with the past - the pub’s popular karaoke evening will continue as before, and live bands will still be booked to provide entertainment on Saturday nights.