The Montrose-based eatery El Tajin may have closed, but owner Martha Doyle is back with a vengeance with her delivery service which sees her travel around the north-east.
Forced to close El Tajin back in July due to the challenging environment the coronavirus pandemic had created for the hospitality sector, Martha Doyle has now reinvented her family business offering delivery as a result of increased customer demand.
Receiving hundreds of messages from her loyal clientele, Martha launched El Tajin at Home last month and has been offering her dishes with a Mexican twist which feature locally and seasonal sourced products.
Opening her restaurant in June 2017 in Montrose, Martha was devastated to have to close her business, but was overwhelmed with the demand from her customers encouraging her to run a delivery service so they could continue to support her.
She said: “I had to close the restaurant as a result of the pandemic, but now we’re back with a new delivery service. We would have been celebrating our third year anniversary during the pandemic in June, and it was really hard to have to close.
“The customers kept looking out for me when I closed in the hope that I would make a comeback and were sad that it wasn’t happening.
“My customers were really the driver in me launching the delivery service. They kept messaging me asking me if I could do something. I use a lot of local producers in the area and in Aberdeenshire and when the restaurant closed, my two main farmers were left with lots of extra products.
“I forced myself to go back not only for my customers but to help out the local farmers and producers that I was using in the restaurant as they also needed my support.”
Cooking in her former restaurant premises, Martha will move the whole operation to her home next month where she is renovating her garage into a commercial kitchen.
She added: “The landlord has been great and has allowed me to cook in the kitchen of the premises to support my vision. I’m cooking there temporarily for now until I fully convert my garage at home into a commercial kitchen. No one really knows what it going to happen in the future so I’ll be using my own home as a base from November.
“I do everything myself from taking the online orders, prep and cook, and even deliver all of the food. I take orders from Monday to Wednesday and plan my cooking schedule around the orders to ensure there’s no waste. Thursday is usually when I begin cooking and then I’ll get the deliveries done.
“Everyone says I need to get a driver, and I will, as I’ll need one if the demand keeps up.”
With demand continuing to increase continuously since launch, Martha now delivers across the whole of the Montrose area right up to Aberdeen and Banchory in Aberdeenshire.
Spacing out cooking and delivery on certain days, Martha is able to service a whole range of areas – some of which have continued to get busier.
“I have had great reception form the customers and I plan my route carefully to ensure I know exactly what areas I’m delivering to, and when. We deliver to places like Laurencekirk and Fettercain on Thursdays,” said Martha.
“On Friday I go to Montrose, Arbroath, Carnoustie and Broughty Ferry. On Saturday it is the coastal route so Inverbervie, Stonehaven, Aberdeen, Banchory and more.
“I got a lot of enquiries from people across these areas to offer delivery there so with all the custom I am getting from them it is making the trips worthwhile.
“The new regulations the Scottish Government put in place have left restaurants with no dinner service now, too. As a result the producers I work with are left with surplus produce so I’m doing some videos on how to cook products at home. I’ve done one with Lunan Bay Farm who produce asparagus and have goat meat.”
Best known for her Scottish twist on traditional Mexican dishes, Martha has enjoyed getting back in the kitchen and is constantly working on new offerings to add to the menu.
She said: “The goat tacos are super popular. I’m working with Westerton Farmers in Aberdeenshire who have these amazing heritage tomatoes and carrots which are excellent to cook with. Knowing exactly where all of the produce comes from is something our customers really like.
“My food is really showcasing the best Scotland has to offer with a Mexican twist. I offer vegan and vegetarian dishes like Mexican squash, chipotle mushroom and that sort of thing. Not to mention the meaty options like ribs, devilled chicken wings and so on. There’s a real selection to be enjoyed.”