A couple from Inverness who have founded several successful hospitality firms are celebrating the opening of their latest venture in the city centre.
Anne Marie Fraser and Dave McLeod already run three businesses including Ness Side Catering Co, McLeods Fish and Chips and Hampers and Champers, which delivers afternoon teas and grazing boxes to the local community.
The most recent, Hamper and Champers, was an idea thought up by Anne Marie, 55, during lockdown.
Little did she know that it would result in the opening of their very own cafe, known as Am Bothan, which has taken less than two months to open.
Situated on Southside Road, in Inverness, Am Bothan serves a variety of breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes to enjoy on-site or takeaway.
“Am Bothan came about as I was looking for somewhere to prep my hampers (for Hampers and Champers),” Anne Marie said.
“The business became very popular as family and friends were unable to visit each other and there were few options for food delivery. It grew rapidly.
“The original cafe, The Olive Grove, in which we’re based now had been closed since the beginning of lockdown and the space was offered to me.
“At the time, I wasn’t sure it would work for Hampers and Champers alone and we considered the option of opening a cafe.
We also wanted to create a nice environment with a bothy feel, where people can come on their own or meet with friends, drink good coffee and eat good food.”
Anne Marie Fraser.
“With all the uncertainty surrounding coming out of lockdown, we wondered what things will be like. But we got our heads together as we love the area and the building – and the landlords were so accommodating.
“Am Bothan is Gaelic for The Bothy. I’m from Fort William and my parents were from Morar and Mallaig, while Dave is from Aberdeen and his family had a hotel in Royal Deeside.
“Our hearts are very much in the Highlands and we wanted our next business venture to portray that. We also wanted to create a nice environment with a bothy feel, where people can come on their own or meet with friends, drink good coffee and eat good food.”
Best of local
The couple aim to support local businesses as much as possible and use their products, including meats and sauces, in dishes across their menu.
“We will offer a ‘grab and go’ menu from the chilled deli cabinet and will sell some of our own produce such as handmade scotch eggs and sausage rolls, which are popular items in our picnics and hampers,” Anne Marie said.
“We’ll also have grazing boxes, local cheeses and charcuterie trays available for a convenient sharing platter.
“Having the fish and chip shop has made us aware of the many seafood suppliers locally and it’s our intention to have cooked shellfish available in our deli counter, with some tasty butters and sauces to take home.
“A local lady who runs Capability Browns is supplying freshly made bagels and focaccia.
“Our freshly made morning rolls are from Three Little Bakers, and we are also using two local bakers, Baked by Jen, who provides the biggest meringues and the most delicious carrot cake, and Perk, who supply us with mouth-watering doughnuts.
“It’s our plan to develop our vegetarian and vegan menu. That’s something we are actively working on.”
Anne Marie believes that hospitality is in her blood, having spent around 20 years in the “busy bar” – The Volunteer Arms – that was run by her dad, Jackie Kennedy.
Although she joked she “mostly got in the way”, the entrepreneur admitted it has helped her throughout her working life.
Anne Marie is not only proud of how far the businesses’ have come, but how quickly she and Dave were able to open the doors of the cafe.
“Work began on the cafe about two months ago and we’re delighted with the finish,” Anne Marie said.
“We will apply the same ethos to Am Bothan as we have done to the other businesses to make it a success. Dave and I firmly believe that running a successful business takes hard work, commitment, quality produce and good customer service.
“We have always been the face of our businesses with the help of our staff. For now, we have no other business plans, but never say never – perhaps a chain of cafes around the country is something to strive for.”
From August, Am Bothan will be open from 8am to 3pm Wednesday to Saturday and 10am to 3pm on Sundays. Until then, it is only open from Thursday to Saturday.