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Young entrepreneur brings family history full circle with new Aberdeen bistro and basement bar

Barbelow will open this weekend.
Barbelow will open this weekend.

Five generations later, the Hailstones family in Aberdeen has come full circle as 26-year-old Emily looks to follow in her great grandfather’s footsteps by launching her own delicatessen and bistro.

She and her partner Hayley Fisher took the bold step to launch their online deli, Olive Alexanders in March last year, and now they’re opening their own bricks and mortar store in the heart of Aberdeen.

Residing in the four-storey Golden Square building which once housed restaurant Granite Park, the duo were inspired by Emily’s family’s history in the area.

Olive Alexanders is named after her late great grandmother Olive Hooper and her grandfather. They were keen to nod to her great grandfather, Alexander, who owned the greengrocer and florist Farquhar and Son’s on St Swithin Street in the 1950s.

From left: Hayley Fisher with Emily and Alex Hailstones.

It is very much a family affair as Emily’s parents, Pauline and James, have also lent a hand in opening the duo’s new venue, Barbelow, that launches this Saturday (March 19).

The delicatessen and bistro will open around a month later.

Pauline says the “considerable” investment into the building and the growth of the business will go into the six-figure region. However, she says it is an investment for the future and one that will be a part of her family’s history.

A picture of Emily’s great grandfather Alexander Hailstones.

Pauline said: “My grandfather started his business with my grandmother by growing plants. He sold fruit and veg and had a deli, and my two aunts ran the florist side of the business. He had polytunnels and it was like a mini garden centre.

“Just before he passed it onto my uncle, and unfortunately passed away, he started growing vines and his goal was to grow his own wine. He was such a visionary and it is definitely in our blood.”

Emily’s great aunts Rhona and Nora with two other employees at Emily’s great grandfather’s shop on St Swithin Street.

Olive Alexanders deli and bistro

With a focus on bringing the best local produce to the masses, Emily, 26, who is the chef and director, and Hayley, 31, the wine specialist and designer, are paving their own future.

The four-storey building comprises of Barbelow on the basement level which will be managed by Emily’s brother, Alex, Olive Alexanders on the ground and first floor, and on the top floor an office and staff area.

A hand holding a plate with a meaty deli sandwich
Olive Alexanders has become popular for their deli sandwiches.

“The building has a lot of space and it is really designed for a delicatessen bistro with its huge windows and natural light,” said Emily.

“We want to train up the new generation of cocktail bartenders. My brother has a keen interest in cocktails and is a great manager. We want it to be somewhere Aberdeen can be proud of.

Some of the drinks and food at Barbelow.

“We want the spaces to complement one another. The bar’s main focus is on cocktails, nice wines and small plates. They are different to the food available in the bistro.”

The standing capacity for the bar is around 90 standing and 40 seated while the bistro is 54.

Staff benefits and profit-sharing

With trinkets and furniture purchased from auctions and estate lets, it is their passion to support and develop their team of around eight that makes the directors stand out to others in the hospitality sector.

Rewarding staff by giving them a share of profits is what Emily and Hayley say will help them retain top talent and will allow them to grow and develop them.

The bar area, with lime green seats and shelves of alcohol in the back
Inside Barbelow.

“We’re keen to get the younger generation in through the door. We’ve focused on hiring people who want to make a stamp for themselves and really do something special,” said Emily.

“In hospitality, a lot of businesses find it hard to keep staff, and we want to change the narrative. We’ve got a good starting salary and are also going to be providing a profit share for staff so that at the end of each financial year a cut of the profits will be shared with them.”

Deliveroo deals

Having launched on Deliveroo a few months ago, the duo will continue to work with the food ordering app and customers will now be able to purchase deli cheeses and meats, plus organic wines.

Emily Hailstones and Hayley Fisher.

Emily added: “It has given us an opportunity to be creative with street food and the deli sandwiches. We’re expanding our menu on it and we’ll be offering seven to eight new sandwiches from the new venue.

“We’ll start it up again with the bar opening and we’ll be selling some of our wine, meats and cheeses on there. With Covid people have had to isolate so there’s a big market for home deliveries now.”

A burger
Deli sandwiches will still be available via Deliveroo.

Barbelow will be open Sunday to Wednesday from noon to midnight and until 2am Thursday to Saturday.

Olive Alexanders will be open from 8am to 10pm at night.

There will also be seating out the front with little passing traffic and plans to open the back of the building to create a beer garden for summer are already underway.

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