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Healthy offering is key to success as cafe sets sights on Aberdeenshire market

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A popular health cafe in Aberdeen will expand to an Aberdeenshire town following its success in the city.

The Key, which is currently based at Regent Quay, is broadening its horizons as it sets its eyes on opening a venue at Westhill Shopping Centre.

The centre, which is home to a range of stores, will welcome the brand’s second health cafe come early May. It will be based in unit five, the former home of ice cream parlour Cones & Candy.

Jonny Smith in the Aberdeen cafe.

Owner Jonny Smith is delighted to bring The Key to Westhill in what he says is an “exciting” move.

He said: “It is going to be different to Regent Quay as we have the clinic, the fitness studio and the office, but this will just be a cafe – although we have a few different ideas to make the menu and offering more fitting with the area.

“The past year has been crazy but it was too good an opportunity not to take it. When myself and my business partner Kenny Swan set up the business we said we wanted to set up in Westhill and other areas. It is such a busy town and is forever growing.

“With the new bypass, access to it is even better and there’s new offices being built there which continues to add to it. The shopping centre is somewhere my family and I are quite often, so we’re really looking forward to being part of the community.”

The Key specialises in healthy dishes.

Local jobs

Employing an additional seven staff to get the business up and running, Jonny and Kenny already employ six people, with more needed to meet the demands of their meal prep arm of the business, too.

Jonny added: “Before the announcement we were already looking to add to the team. The prep meals have really taken off, as well as catering for football teams, oil and gas offices and other companies. The new site will add around seven new roles which is very exciting.

“We have five full-time members at Regent Quay with one part-time, and we’ll add one or two more as well.”

Healthy food with a twist

With an academy and two primary schools within walking distance of the cafe, Jonny hopes to ensure his healthy offering appeals to all ages and is determined to provide secondary school children with healthier eating options for lunch.

He is also determined to keep their healthy food with a twist options on the menu, ensuring those sitting in or popping in can enjoy good food even when on the go.

“Our food is healthy food but with a twist. It isn’t what you’d expect from a health cafe as there’s burgers with chips, with a healthy twist of course. We’ve been really successful with that,” said Jonny.

A healthier burger option with non-alcoholic beer at The Key in Regent Quay.

“We’ll be looking to add more of an express menu, too, as we think the clientele will be looking for express items like healthy wraps, soups and salads. There will be a sit-in option as well.

“One of the main attractions for us was the schools and trying to get healthy food into families. We’ll hopefully try and get some healthier options in there for the kids at school and their families in the surrounding area.”

The food pep dishes ready to go out to customers.

Long-term lease

Looking to invest in the area, The Key has taken on a long-term lease as it looks to cement itself into the local community.

With Westhill being a thriving town with numerous new development and commercial opportunities on the go, Jonny is certain it is the perfect place to call home.

He said: “It is a long-term lease and we want to be there for the foreseeable. We see this as being some sort of chain and we’re hoping to expand into different areas across the Shire and even further. We’ve always had this vision and we want to push to get more involved and be part of bigger things.

The Key will open in Westhill in early May.

“Westhill is going to be really exciting for us and being part of that community. We get our produce from JK Fine Foods who opened a shop in Westhill recently, too, and that community feel really appealed to us. Covid-19 lockdown has really opened customers eyes to shopping local and more people will want to go and support and try local.

“We get the keys at the end of the month and we want to put our ‘Key stamp’ on it. It will be bright and airy and we want to take our time to get it ready.

“We want to give back to the community and we donated Christmas dinner and meals to people who were living on their own and tied in with the Russell Anderson Foundation to feed underprivileged children in the city. We’re here to help the community and city and want to unlock a healthier lifestyle for everyone, be that a top athlete or a child.”

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