We all have a business that springs to mind when reminiscing about bygone bars, cafes and restaurants in the north-east.
For me, I’d say Formartine’s near Tarves and Aberdeen’s No.1 Bar & Grill are among the places I would love to stop by just one more time.
But it seems as though a lot of Ellon residents miss the same business terribly — former Italian restaurant, Casa Salvatore (Salvatore’s).
I know this because I recently asked members of private Facebook group, Ellon Matters, what they liked and disliked about the town’s food and drink scene.
There were several mentions of a need for an Italian restaurant, and many recalled fond memories of Salvatore’s.
A trip down memory lane: Town locals express love for Salvatore’s and Meat Monsters
Salvatore’s, on Station Road, closed its doors permanently in November 2018. The owners (at the time) had run the business for 12 years.
Locals have been screaming for an Italian restaurant ever since — but now more than ever.
This was the most popular suggestion on how they believe the town’s food and drink offering could be improved, this and the opening of a wine bar or quality bistro.
“I used to love Casa Salvatore, it had fabulous food and a cosy atmosphere,” wrote one respondent.
Another said: “Ellon used to have a lovely one [Italian restaurant], Salvatore’s. He [the owner] used to sing at your table.”
A nod was also given to former barbecue restaurant Meat Monsters, which closed last summer.
Here’s what else Ellon food and drink fans oh-so desperately want (including a restaurant for The Gaff)…
Other suggestions included a Chinese or Thai restaurant, and owner of local pizza business The Gaff, Mike Gaffney, to consider opening a restaurant of his own.
Mike does have a premises in Ellon on Bridge Street, but it only offers delivery and takeaway.
There are also a number of Chinese and Thai takeaways in the town, including Yumi Asian Cuisine and Nosh Ellon. However, they too do not have the option to sit in.
“Something just for adults,” wrote a group member.
They continued: “Ellon is already really good at being inclusive for children, prams and dogs — somewhere with a bit of ambiance to relax away from the pitter patter of tiny feet, be it two or four legged!”
The New Inn Hotel, BrewDog DogTap, Symposium and The Tolbooth are among the dog-friendly venues in the area.
— Darren Jones 🏴#FBPE (@DARRENJ0NES) September 2, 2023
The Coffee Apothecary and Annie’s Tearoom have plenty of options on the cards for vegetarian and vegan customers. However, a café with a sole vegetarian and vegan offering is sought-after.
One person compared the plant-based options in Ellon to those in Inverurie, and many followed suit in other areas.
Is it wrong to want the same variety as Inverurie, which has chains like Greggs and Subway?
Their comment read: “Whilst Ellon already has plenty of cafes, more plant-based and vegetarian options are needed.
“Something like the No. 8 High Street or Dreamy Goat Coffee Co (both in Inverurie).”
A local added: “[It would] Be good if we could have a variety like Inverurie has…
“There’s so much ground up Balmacassie [for a] Greggs, Subway, or even the likes of a Home Bargains.
“That way, folk of Ellon wouldn’t need to travel to Inverurie, Peterhead or Aberdeen.
“If McDonald’s does get the go-ahead it’ll be interesting to see if others will follow suit to expand that area.”
Inverurie boasts a string of businesses serving Italian, Indian, Scottish and Chinese food, among other cuisines.
In response, another person wrote: “I have no interest in a Subway, McDonald’s or anything like that, it’s just not my cup of tea.
“But certainly Thai or even a restaurant that mixes things up a bit. I just find the restaurants unexciting.”
Taking inspiration from Inverurie, it was suggested for Ellon to start hosting events (for example, a beer or music festival), using empty units for pop-up shops, attracting larger stores to open a base in the area, and launching a town app.
The Chocolate Bar director wants a late-night eatery, but says it may not be viable
Local chocolate shop and café The Chocolate Bar was highly praised by several group members on my post.
Run by Kira Rattray, from Ythanbank, I was keen to gather her thoughts on the Ellon food and drink scene too. After all, she lives and breathes it.
Her café in The Square welcomes 200 to 500 people per week.
“Ellon has a fantastic range of cafes, all bringing their own niche element,” says the 39-year-old.
“We also have some fantastic pubs, and the occasional live music event is a treat.
“It would be nice if there were a few more evening eateries. However, I fully understand why there isn’t as we have tried early mornings, evenings and Sunday openings for years to no avail.
“People’s habits have really changed since reopening after lockdown. The rush times have never went back to as late as they used to be…”