Celebrated for their coeliac friendly credentials and award-winning fish and chips, The Real Food Café in Tyndrum has been offering a warm welcome to cyclists, walkers and their four-legged friends for nearly 20 years.
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
In 2004 Sarah Heward and her late husband, Steve, decided to move to Scotland from London to purchase an abandoned Little Chef restaurant in Tyndrum.
The following year, The Real Food Café opened its doors for the first time.
Sarah said: “Steve and I knew the area because we had rented a holiday cottage nearby. When we saw it for the first time it was in a completely derelict state but we had a vision for it – a roadside fish and chip shop with a Scottish twist.
“At the time, we knew we needed a change. We hardly saw each other, and both led very career focused lives, so we took the plunge.”
CELEBRATING SCOTLAND’S LARDER
Sarah and Steve’s dream was to showcase what Scotland’s larder has to offer by serving authentic locally sourced food and be a business that’s rooted in community, family and authenticity. An ambition that inspired the café’s name, as Sarah explained:
“We wanted to emphasize that our food offering was the real deal. We’re serving great (real), honest, locally sourced homemade good food.”
The café offers lovingly made food using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. Its great location, half-way along the West Highland Way and just off the A82, makes it the perfect place to stop and refuel from 7.30am to 9pm, with electric car chargers also available.
Sarah attributes the café’s success to her loyal, friendly and hard-working team.
She said: “Our team members are crucial to our business success and they work very hard. We’re fortunate to have such a loyal team and we’re always looking at ways to further reward their hard work and commitment. They are our family.”
Paying and treating staff well has helped Sarah build a strong team of 28; over half of whom have worked with her for over 5 years.
As one of the Scotland Food & Drink’s Regional Food Tourism Ambassadors, Sarah is currently working on developing a programme to aid local hospitality businesses with staff retention.
GLUTEN FREE FRIENDLY
The Real Food Café aims to be inclusive as possible and caters for customers with a wide range of dietary requirements and access needs.
Sarah said: “We were one of the first businesses in the region to serve gluten free food and we are the only independent business in the region that’s a Coeliac UK accredited caterer. On the back of this we also introduced Gluten Free Fortnight which runs annually in the autumn.”
The café also offers vegan, vegetarian and halal menus and their menus are produced in large print for visually impaired customers.
She added: “Our values reach far beyond our hospitality establishment. We’re heavily involved in our local community and are part of project to install a Changing Places Toilet in Tyndrum.”
With their 20th anniversary fast approaching, the café has several modernisation projects planned.
Sarah said: “We have just completed our first phase which included upgrading our kitchen and toilet facilities. This was a significant investment to future-proof our business.
“The next phase revolves around increasing staff accommodation capacity, which is an absolute necessity for a rural and remote business like ours, especially when there is an acute shortage of affordable and social housing in rural Scotland.”