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‘Instagrammable’ Westhill deli delighting lunchtime customers

The Hill Deli can be found in Westhill
The Hill Deli can be found in Westhill

From the gorgeous flower wall to the mouth-watering menu, there’s something pretty special about The Hill Deli.

An industrial estate in Westhill probably doesn’t spring to mind when you’re wondering where to go for lunch, unless your idea of a good feed comes via a burger van.

Each to their own, but loaded fries or smoked applewood macaroni sounds far more appealing.

And despite the fact that the deli has only been open for a matter of weeks, come lunchtime and the queue is out the door.

Cinnamon buns lure hungry office workers in.

Proud owner Louise Morgan, 29, has just opened up for the day when we meet, and there are already some enticing smells coming from the kitchen.

It’s a family affair, with Louise’s mum, Carol-Anne, serving up fine pieces from behind the counter.

From the stylish velvet interior to the delights of Fat Batch and The Bread Guy, we found out why Louise is redefining what it means to run a deli in the shire.

Q. Tell us about yourself

Well I’m 29 and I used to work for an oil and gas company. I was an operations co-ordinator, and oil and gas is all I’ve ever known.

During the pandemic, I was working from home doing that role, and it was actually the thought of returning to the office which spurred me into action.

Louise previously worked in oil and gas

I wanted to mix things up, work for myself and have some flexibility by working my own hours.

Ultimately I wanted to do something for me.

Q. Have you always wanted to run your own food business?

The idea took me by surprise, despite the fact I love food.

I always used to go to places that I found on Instagram.

From left, Carol-Anne Morgan, Louise Morgan and Eilidh McLoughlin.

I wanted to create somewhere pretty where people could come and feel relaxed, that was the vision.

Q. What made you decide on this location?

So prior to us opening, there was nowhere you could really go in the area and buy a sandwich which wasn’t branded.

There aren’t that many little independent places. There’s The Key, but their focus is more so on healthy food and vegan options.

Louise took inspiration from Instagram for her decor

I had hoped we’d be popular with office workers but had no idea just how much we’d take off.

Q. So business is going well?

The queue was out the door on the very first day. I remember thinking to myself, what on earth is happening?

Lunchtime is crazy, and I’d actually advise booking in advance to be guaranteed a table. We get so many people popping in past for takeaway as well.

Q. Tell us about your menu, how did you select your dishes?

I partly based the menu on the kind of food I like, and my go-to dishes when I’m out for a meal.

Our chef, David Robinson, came on board having previously worked at The Four Mile.

Loaded fries are always popular

He has a lot of fantastic ideas, like smoked Applewood macaroni.

I love our pulled beef brioche roll with siracha meal, or our club sandwich served with loaded fries.

Fancy a burger? There’s plenty to choose from

Our scones come from The Bread Guy, and we have cinnamon buns from Susie Q Homebakes. I also stock pieces from Nannie Annie Bakes and Fat Batch.

Q. What are some of your most popular dishes?

It varies, but our Southern Fried burger sold so well.

Our loaded fries are always a hit. We do different toppings, like honey chilli chicken or Philly cheesesteak. The New Yorker bagel has some fans as well.

Q. Are you planning to change the menu in the future?

We’ve got so many ideas, and sometimes I’ll take something which has been really popular from our specials board and include it in the main menu.

We’re looking to add stuff, like French toast at breakfast for example.

Louise is now branching out into afternoon teas

I’m planning afternoon teas with savoury pieces, and mini cheesecakes in glass jars.

We’re doing an afternoon tea with a Princess theme, Princess Anna from Frozen is our special guest. The tickets sold out in four hours, which was amazing.

I’d love to do Santa’s Grotto, alongside roast dinners and pop up bistro nights.

The hope is to branch out into catering eventually. I think the demand is very much there, people just want to get out and enjoy themselves.

Q. Where does the name come from?

It was very random, but I went on a word generator and eventually settled on the name.

Q. Has there been challenges?

I think the main challenge was getting everything organises. This place was just an empty unit when we arrived.

I got my interior inspiration from a place called Cafe Lola, which is in Las Vegas.

Pretty in pink is the order of the day

I found them on Instagram and channelled that into my business.  I loved the idea of an Instagramable cafe, but I wanted to strike the right balance so it wasn’t pretentious.

There’s flower walls and plant walls, people do take pictures. At the heart of things, the good food is the vibe though.

I got the keys in June and we were ready to go by the end of August.

I thought business might take a wee while to pick up, but from day one it just hasn’t stopped.

Q. Was it important to you to factor in sustainability?

Yes, we use TPS fruit and veg who are based in Turriff, and our meat comes from Dennis Patterson.

Louise stocks products from local businesses, including scones from The Bread Guy

Our packaging comes from a company in Dyce, and we always consider what is compostable and what isn’t.

Q. How did you go about choosing a team?

So I roped my mum in to help, she works front of house. We have six members of staff, and we’ve advertised a few more positions recently.

We make a really good team, and I am very hands on as well.

Q. Do you think you have the pandemic to thank for your new venture?

If it wasn’t for lockdown, I’d still be working in an office. It has been a massive surprise, but I’m so glad I took the plunge

You can follow The Hill Deli on Facebook and Instagram.