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Big Plans at Big Boss

Whilst St Andrews may lack commercial fast food chains, Big Boss at 13 Bell Street is a familiar late-night hub for students and locals of the town and, according to owner and manager Jack Umre, is here to stay. The eatery has plans to incorporate a bar into its main location and open a second location on Market Street focused on serving desserts. 

Big Boss arrived in St Andrews two years ago on 15 June 2022 during The Open. Having previously owned Courtyard Cafe on Market Street, Umre expanded his business and replaced Turkish restaurant Dervish with his new late-night takeaway shop.

Umre, known throughout town as “Jack the Lad”, is a Turkish-born businessman who moved to Scotland 23 years ago where he established himself in Leven with his first takeaway restaurant. Four years ago, Umre relocated to St Andrews, hoping to serve its lucrative tourist, student, and golfing body. 

Big Boss is leaving a memorable impact on student nightlife, with its karaoke music and multicoloured club-like lighting. Umre attributes this phenomenon to his Middle Eastern heritage and the “cosmopolitan nature of St Andrews”. 

He recalled that, “Once, a customer from Dubai came in to order food at 2 am. We were the only place open and after ordering, they asked me to play some Arabic music. We laughed and danced together, talked about our lives, and took photos to remember the moment. Since then, I have always included music in the shop.”

The Muslim and Turkish network in St Andrews is important to the owner, and the community is growing: “Big Boss helps us share our culture in Scotland, through our traditional cuisine and our music,” Umre said.

Wishing to enhance engagement between Big Boss and local charities, Umre articulated that he and his team are committed to supporting important causes. On Valentine’s Day this year, Big Boss hosted a late-night bake sale from 11 pm to 3 am in partnership with student-run Hitchhike charity Race2 St Andrews, with all profits going toward WaveProject, Smartworks, and Emergency UK. 

Additionally, Umre’s business will be sponsoring St Andrews ‘Fight Night’ in March of this year, providing late-night food to attendees at this high-scale and often sold-out event. Umre feels “honoured to be able to play an active part in the student life of the town” and is confident that Big Boss’ presence will be well-received. 

Recently, renovations and signs for ‘Tipsy Boss’ have sparked interest and discourse in St Andrews. Whilst decorating and promotion first began in November 2023, the bar is yet to be open for service. Umre explained to The Saint, “Our business plan is awaiting approval on a liquor licence.” He added, “We have applied for licensing to Fife Council and are awaiting a response, which we expect to receive in a fortnight.” Umre strongly believes that Tipsy Boss will be popular and when asked what customers can expect, he stated, “Whatever a customer wants, we can serve them.”

Umre also revealed for the first time plans for a new ‘Little Boss’ extension restaurant, which will be a dessert parlour located on Market Street. Umre remarked that this has been a long-awaited project and is now in the process of refurbishing the building and installing electric roofing and a skyline. Little Boss will be the only dessert-focused service open until 3 am in the town featuring “fresh ice cream, milkshakes, hot cookies, candy floss, and American donuts.” Umre remains ambitious that Little Boss will open before the end of this academic year. 

Reflecting upon Big Boss’ impact in St Andrews, Umre feels grateful for everyone who has helped transform his business dream into a reality: “Big Boss is successful because our ideas are big, our community is big, and our support is big.”

Image by Jack Umre

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