LUX Restaurant & Bar Awards 2019

Page 18 LUX Restaurant & Bar Awards 2019 Opened in 2014, AliBob started life with a clear mission to redefine the concept of food and customer service delivered from a small café in the middle of the picturesque Carse of Gowrie in Perthshire. Ali explains how the eatery is seeking to challenge traditional perceptions of café food and service. “When AliBob first started we had no experience in the café market, but our open and honest approach from day one has won us fans because we tell it like it is. Since the beginning our mission has been to feed everyone and anyone and make everyone feel welcome; it is a breath of fresh air for customers who are tired of the same old format when they eat out. “As part of our focus on inclusion we cater for all diets and in an age when food allergies, dietary preferences, gluten free and vegan represents a significant proportion of the buying public, we make sure that everyone can eat safely and confidently regardless of their food choices. We represent what is best about Scottish food and drink and are proud to represent everything that is great about eating out in Perthshire.” This focus on local produce is incredibly important to AliBob, and as such Ali is eager to discuss it in more detail. “Local food is important, and as such we source all of our ingredients from as close to us as possible. There is no need to bring something from overseas when it is available closer to home, and we are determined to showcase the fresh, delicious local produce we have on our doorstep. Scotland has so much to shout about when it comes to food, and with huge amounts being exported abroad we feel it is important to showcase the beauty of our homegrown larder to our diners.” AliBob Café is a family café dedicated to showcasing the best Scottish produce and delicious local cuisine. We invited Ali Abercrombie, one half of the husband and wife team behind the concept, to tell us more. AliBob @ Cairn O’Mohr Best Family Cafe - Perth & Kinross & Culinary Excellence in Healthy Cuisine 2019 But it’s not just the food that is sourced locally, AliBob also recruits staff from the local villages to boost employment opportunities for young people in the surrounding rural area. “The Carse of Gowrie lies in the beautiful countryside between Perth and Dundee but the remoteness can make it harder to attract staff to come and work here because of the travelling time and lack of reliable public transport. Our solution is to offer training places for local young people who would otherwise be forced to travel to the major cities to find work during the holidays and at the weekend. It’s very important to us that we contribute positively to our local community and be a responsible employer – especially as we live locally too – and by providing these opportunities, it helps kids learn great life skills through dealing with the public and instils a positive work ethic for later in life. “Without our staff, we wouldn’t be able to function so it’s crucial that we treat our staff well and we all get along together. There will always be stressful times when we’re queued out the door during a full service but we all share the same sense of humour and have fun while we are working so it helps get us to the end of the shift.” Overall, AliBob has come incredibly far since its inception, and looking ahead the team is keen not to rest on its laurels, and instead to drive the eatery to even greater popularity, as Ali proudly concludes. “When we first opened AliBob we were so keen to offer our guests a variety of dishes so they have a choice, however we made so many options for each dish that it impacted on our serving time and customer experience. We insist on making everything fresh to order but when there is a tendency for customers to expect fast food in this day and age, one of the main objectives for us was to bridge the gap between customer expectations of serving time and the reality of how long it genuinely takes to prepare fresh tasty food. “As our confidence has grown in knowing what we are doing, we can now work our menus and processes around the difference between choice and guidance. Our menu is still extensive, but we are always working on reigning it back to offer our customers our time-served advice about what is best and what we recommend. We are also in the midst of a bar-refit and our new bar area will make better use of the limited space we have available to increase our efficiency in drinks service. Our drinks serving is now customer-facing and more welcoming as guests come through the door. By enhancing the service and approach at AliBob we hope to increase our client-base and welcome even more guests over the coming years.” Company: AliBob @ Cairn O’Mohr Contact: Ali Abercrombie