In my opinion, there is a fantastic variety of cafes, restaurants and takeaways in Stonehaven.
No, I am not local to the town, but it’s undeniable after either taking a stroll around the area or simply doing a quick Google search.
I know that at least some members of the community — with a population of more than 11,000 — share the same view, with the likes of The Tolbooth, E Giulianotti’s, The Marine, and Carron to Mumbai proving among the town’s popular food and drink spots.
But this variety ends when it comes to its list of supermarkets.
The town boasts not one, two or three, but four Co-op branches — located on Redcloak Drive, David Street, Market Square and Kirkton Road.
There is also a Farmfoods on Barclay Street.
Unsurprisingly, a bigger range in the supermarket department was in demand when I asked locals to share their thoughts on how to improve the Stonehaven food and drink scene.
‘It would be good to see one of the big four’ — Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons — as well as a Lidl or Aldi
One respondent spent most of his life in Stonehaven. Well, that was until roughly eight years ago…
“I finally had enough of the lack of supermarket choice and expensive Co-op,” he said.
“[There’s] the assumption that everyone has a car and can just drive up to Asda in Portlethen. If you don’t have a car, Stonehaven is a very, very expensive place to live in.
“We left and I now live in Inverness where I enjoy a choice of supermarkets to buy food from, all within easy walking distance of my home. Life is much cheaper.”
Another person wrote: “As a non-driver I feel that the supermarkets in the town centre are quite limited, and it would be good to see one of the big four or a Lidl/Aldi here.
“I think I heard the fabled new supermarket on the edge of town, if it ever arrives, will be yet another Co-op, which is a bit depressing.”
However, a local responded: “Everyone desperate for a supermarket will be the first ones bemoaning the loss of our local independent shops if and when one opens.
“Our local vendors contribute so much more to the community than a Tesco ever would.”
Who are the vendors in question, and what other food and drink options would people like to see in Stoney?
Stonehaven food vendors include The Seafood Bothy and The Bay Fish and Chips.
As for independent shops, Graingers Delicatessen and Replenish are among them.
But the list of food and drink businesses that town locals would like to see opened up was lengthy.
— 「Richard Street」 (@_RichardStreet_) June 18, 2022
“Although we have three pizza takeaways, I would like to see a pizza restaurant (not a chain one) opening in the town,” wrote a respondent.
Another said: “Would love a quality wine bar. Lots of nice pubs, coffee shops, tea rooms and cafes in Stonehaven but no wine bars.
“It’s a shame. There’s nowhere to sit and enjoy a natter with friends in a more contemporary, cosy setting, offering a choice of quality wines, good ambience and perhaps some light bites that are not the usual café or pub grub type offerings.”
Jan Langdon, owner of Molly’s Café Bar on The Promenade, is in agreement with the wine bar suggestion.
Her business, which launched in October 2018 and is open for food and drink daily, welcomes roughly 450 every week. In the summer, this figure doubles.
Jan said: “My favourite aspects of the town’s food and drink scene are the lovely restaurants at our harbour. Also, the town centre has a good selection of food.
“[However] Stonehaven is maybe lacking a nice cosy and comfortable wine bar serving small plates and tapas.”
A vegetarian/vegan restaurant, healthy food café — similar to Foodstory or The Key — or restaurants serving tapas, Thai or Mexican cuisine were mentioned as well.
Do you agree that the Stonehaven food and drink scene is ‘better than Banchory’s’?
While several suggestions were made on how to improve the town’s hospitality offering, it was praised just as much.
What for? Its variety, of course.
“My husband and I moved from Aberdeen to Stonehaven in April and we love going out for drinks and dinner,” a local said.
“There is so much to choose from and a good variety of different cuisines for a small town, and plenty of pubs.
“We have also previously lived in Banchory where they had an amazing pizza restaurant, which is one thing I definitely miss.
“But all in all, I would argue that Stonehaven’s food and drink scene is better than Banchory’s, which I think is mainly due to its popularity with tourists.”