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EXCLUSIVE: Aberdeen’s Backyard Beach Collective pop-up extends stay as 13,000 visitors attend in first month

From left: Michael Robertson, David Griffiths, Atisaya Aitcheson (saya) from The Sushi Box Aberdeen and Haydn's Woodfired Pizza owner Rob Fenton.
From left: Michael Robertson, David Griffiths, Atisaya Aitcheson (saya) from The Sushi Box Aberdeen and Haydn's Woodfired Pizza owner Rob Fenton.

A pop-up street food market at Aberdeen’s Codona’s Amusement Park has proven a huge hit with locals as thousands turned out to support a range of local vendors.

Organised by STAXX founders Michael Robertson and David Griffiths, the duo brought Backyard Beach Collective to the city, offering a space for food vendors who have been hugely affected by the coronavirus pandemic a place to operate.

As a result of its success, the pop-up will be extended for another month after more than 13,000 people visited it across a five weekend period of which the site has only been open 15 days.

In partnership with Codona’s, the team have extended opening hours from 4pm to 10pm and will be operating on Wednesdays and Thursdays now, too.

Initial stages

David Griffiths, one of the organisers, has relished seeing the success of Backyard Beach Collective which is a taster of what is to come with the STAXX concept he and Michael plan to bring to the city next year.

From left: Michael Robertson and David Griffiths, co-owners of STAXX and ABERDAM, have organised Backyard Beach Collective with Codona’s.

He said: “By the end of the five weekends of May we are on course to have welcomed over 13,000 people, from seated guests to walk-ins, and those popping in for takeaway.

“Due to the amazing support from loyal fans we have extended the pop-up for another month and have now opened up our online booking diary for June.

“We co-organised Backyard Beach Collective with the team at Codona’s and they couldn’t have been more accommodating, the whole team pulled all of this together in only three weeks and to see what it has now become is incredible.

“We set out to have it provide a small taster of what STAXX can eventually be. Codona’s were fantastic in ensuring the rent for all of the traders remained as affordable as possible, we wanted the event to provide a financial boost to them as they have suffered so much over the last year with the loss of events and sit-in trade.

“One of the real highlights so far has been offering Olive Alexanders their first customer-facing event. I’m a huge believer in offering opportunities to passionate and creative people, so watching them jump at the chance, smash the weekend then immediately go on to securing a two-week kitchen residency in the city centre off the back of it was fantastic.

“This is exactly what we want to achieve with STAXX, providing opportunities and helping entrepreneurs in Aberdeen flourish! We’re also looking forward to welcoming new vendors like Muchacho and others who are still to be confirmed for June.”

2,000kg of fries

Launching their own food brand, Dutch fries firm ABERDAM at the pop-up, Michael and David have also been enjoying being in the kitchen and seeing the success of the event first hand.

The pink garlic mayonnaise fries.

Michael added: “We set up ABERDAM as a way of providing vital pre-funding income for STAXX. As we get closer to securing the land we are beginning to incur legal and design fees, so 100% of our profits from ABERDAM will go towards funding these. You can literally help change Aberdeen by eating fries – not a bad deal!

“It has been a ridiculous success! and we’ve definitely felt the weight of support for STAXX behind us. Every week we’re continuing to break our own records and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Taste test of Aberdam’s Nutella fries

Read the full review, here.

“We have already gone through over 2,000kg of fries and used more than 200 litres of sauce. Considering that’s been over a combined period of 12 days is absolutely mind blowing.

“The demand has been so strong for ABERDAM that the front desk staff have had to regularly form separate queues outside of the pop-up just for those wishing to come in past for our fries.”

More than 2,000 pizzas

And they aren’t the only ones who have been busy as Rob Fenton, owner of Haydn’s Woodfired Pizza, reports he has made more than 2,000 pizzas.

The Aberdeenshire-based street food operator has been hard hit by the pandemic when all events were cancelled.

Rob Fenton from Haydn’s Woodfired Pizza.

Rob, said: “When David suggested BBC I jumped at the chance. I had a strong feeling it would be popular. With restrictions finally lifting, many people were desperate to get out and do stuff and the BBC was a great way for small pop ups to trade safely to existing customers but also introduced us to many more.

“The reception has been amazing with each week getting busier and we see a lot of returning customers. Five weeks in and we have made over 2,000 pizzas.

“We have had many comments from customers saying they would love to see more pop-ups like this in Aberdeen.

“STAXX is the perfect response. It’s a great platform to showcase new pop-ups and give customers a place to try something new and support local homegrown businesses.”

Sushi fans

Atisaya Aitcheson of The Sushi Box Aberdeen has been operating from the pop-up for the past five weeks after taking on a kitchen residency at Aberdeen cocktail bar, The Tippling House, as a result of the Aberdeen Market closing.

Atisaya Aitcheson from The Sushi Box Aberdeen.

She and her team have enjoyed being busy at the event and are looking forward to welcoming more people and introducing them to their sushi and rice bowls.

She said: “This is something that a lot of us wanted after all that we’ve been through the pandemic. A great summer vibe with a beer garden and a variety of local food businesses.

“The reception has been fantastic! Despite the unpredictable weather the customers have been very enthusiastic to be part of it.

“Aberdeen needs a place that people can go to and get a variety of food from local businesses and this has been the answer to that.”

Tables can now be booked on ResDiary and walk-in only tables will also be available for those popping past on the day.

For more on STAXX…

Nearly 3,500 bookings in 12 hours for new street food venture from STAXX team in Aberdeen

Duo behind Aberdeen’s first ‘box market’ STAXX say project is ‘more important than ever’ with John Lewis closure

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