Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Popular Inverness restaurant to take over former Mountain Cafe site in Aviemore

The restaurant's new interior, including pizza oven.
The restaurant's new interior, including pizza oven.

Inverness restaurant Cheese and Tomatin opens up new branch in Aviemore that will serve their famous sourdough pizzas as well as other home-cooked foods.

Opening a new restaurant during a pandemic while so many are having to close may seem ambitious, but it hasn’t stopped Inverness restaurateurs Lisa and Tim Allan taking over the former Mountain Cafe site in Aviemore to expand their restaurant business Cheese and Tomatin.

Although mainland Scotland is heading into Level 4 coronavirus restrictions on Boxing Day, meaning hospitality venues will only be able to offer takeaway until the levels change, Lisa said they are hopeful their new site will be just as successful as its predecessor.

She said: “This summer we were still doing our mobile unit which we used to travel around all the surrounding villages to do takeaways and events and became very well known through that, so we decided to venture into Aviemore.

The former Mountain Cafe above Cairngorm Sports in Aviemore.

“It just so happened the Mountain Cafe closed and we just snapped it up. I think had Covid not happened, we wouldn’t have had this opportunity. I know that sounds really sad for the Mountain Cafe but I also know they’re very happy where they are now, we know Kirsten (Gilmour) who owns it and she is happy so it doesn’t feel as bad.

“It was an ambition to expand the restaurant and we were going in that direction. We did want Aviemore but I don’t think it would’ve happened without the pandemic. The lockdown was very good for us in Inverness. I know that sounds really strange, but because we’re mostly takeaway and delivery and people knew us anyway, we were so busy and I think it made us realise we needed to expand.

“I think if it had been any other property then we might’ve thought twice about it but we used to come here to eat all the time and we know it’s an absolutely amazing location.

The new restaurant interior.

“It was too good to turn down and the fact that Kirsten left was perfect timing in a way, although people keep pointing out that we’re opening a place while so many others are closing. It’s strange but we’re hopeful – Aviemore is still a really busy place, people are still coming and the restaurants here are still busy.

“It was a loss when this place closed so we’d really like to fill that void enough for something really good and create a hub that people can come to again – that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Where it all began

Though they may have just opened the Aviemore branch, Cheese and Tomatin – best known for its homemade sourdough pizza – has been in existence for several years and started out in a humble catering van before becoming one of Inverness’s most popular eateries.

Lisa said: “We’re originally from Fife, then we moved out to Arran about 10 years ago then to Inverness. We actually started in 2016 as a mobile caterers and had just a little trailer with an oven, which is how it came about – we just went round festivals and events and people really loved our pizza. At the time I’d been making sourdough and bread and everything at home and some pizza for friends, who would say I should start selling it.

The restaurant’s new pizza oven.

“So it was kind of born out of that. Then we decided after two years of doing the mobile unit that we should just open a restaurant.

“By chance we knew someone who had a little property on Stephen’s Brae in Inverness – it used to be a shoe shop and a tattoo parlour – and we went and had a look and absolutely loved it. It’s an older property and was small enough for us to get on our feet and try having our own place.

“It is very small, all the pizzas are made in front of the customers as well and it’s got a little bar downstairs and a tiny snug room upstairs, which we made into a sort of living room where people can come and sit, as well as a little outside eating area as well. It’s kind of like an old Victorian house.

“The Inverness one is mostly takeaway and delivery but people do come and sit in as well. That’s what we really wanted to achieve – a really cosy and warm, homely feel and it’s great because you really get to know your customers as well.”

Aviemore bound

Planning to operate as takeaway only during the level four lockdown, they hope to make the Aviemore restaurant one of the top places to eat and drink in the Highland town when it is able to welcome people back in a few weeks.

Posted by Cheese & Tomatin on Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Lisa added: “The Aviemore one is going to be open when restrictions aren’t as heavy, seven days a week from 8.30am to 10pm. In our Inverness one we really just do mostly evenings, as well as some lunches at the weekend and in the summer when there are lots of tourists around.

“Aviemore is going to be all year round with lots of different breakfasts and obviously our own sourdough is still going to feature throughout breakfast, lunch and dinner as that’s our signature thing. We’ll also have pizza from 12pm and we have an amazing pastry chef coming in so there’ll be lots of amazing cakes too. There will be coffees, stews and soups, alongside our sourdough bread as well.

“We want this place to be quite cosy and homely as well with all really authentic home-cooked foods.”

More of the restaurant interior.