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Food scenes in Banff and Macduff have ‘huge potential’ – but what would help improve them?

Billy Wood, owner of The Banff Deli, and Annie's Cakery founder Annie McDonald share their thoughts.

Emilia Mazur with The Banff Deli owner Billy Wood. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson
Emilia Mazur with The Banff Deli owner Billy Wood. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

It’s been a year-and-a-half since The Banff Deli opened on Low Street. And according to owner Thomas (Billy) Wood, six businesses have since followed suit – all opening on the same road.

Billy, 55, advertises his shop and its products as much as possible at local producers markets and on social media.

Banff Bridge. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

However, he continuously welcomes customers who “never knew” the family-run business existed.

It sells quality local produce and deli meats along with freshly-prepared sandwiches, wraps, paninis, toasties and baked goods such as pies, sausage rolls, quiches and sweet treats.

Products by The Banff Deli team. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Recently, they have increased their focus on the latter with Billy’s wife Suzi coming up with tasty creations – including cheesecake stuffed cruffins, cinnamon bun cakes and pavlovas, to name a few – which are not available anywhere else locally.

The Banff Deli – and neighbouring hospitality businesses – ‘can’t grow unless customers base grows’

Billy is originally from Pittenweem in Fife but now lives in Longmanhill.

Anywhere between 150 and 250 customers visit his shop per week. At markets, he serves roughly 100 to 150 people.

“Banff has huge potential,” adds Billy.

Billy opened The Banff Deli  in 2022. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

“We just need to get the word out that we exist but we can’t grow unless our customer base grows.”

I asked what could affect the growth.

The former trawlerman went on to say: “Parking in Banff has always been an issue. But with the local council deciding to remove what free parking there is in Banff, this is set to get worse.

“It will without a doubt reduce the numbers of customers we see in the shop with folk working in Banff looking for alternative free parking. It is inevitable that this will spill over into street parking which reduces the availability of parking spaces near the shops, which will have an impact on us.

High Street in Banff, pictured in 2020. Image: Paul Glendell

“Six new businesses opened in Low Street alone in the last year or so. All we ask is that folk make the effort to come down and have a look around.

“Small businesses are there and trying to survive, but we need potential customers to come down and see what we have to offer.”

What would help attract more people to the area in Billy’s eyes?

Billy appreciates that “choice is important.”

Banff has recently experienced an increase in accommodation options and a growing café culture with three new openings in the past year and more planned.

The town alone boasts a number of thriving food and drink businesses such as:

  • Cherry Tree Café and Bistro
  • Delight Café Gallery
  • Bridgeview Restaurant & Coffee Shop
  • LightHouse Fish Bar
  • Banff Springs Hotel
  • Home Bakery
A chicken dish from Banff Springs Hotel. Image: Paul Glendell

“Hopefully this brings more folk out and about in the town and increases footfall in High Street and Low Street,” the business owner adds.

However, Billy thinks a wider range of food offerings would benefit the Macduff and Banff food scenes.

For example, he believes there is a gap in the market for a fish restaurant.

Billy added: “We are right at the sea. [There are] great fish shops but no fish restaurants.

Inside The Knowes Hotel. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

“While there are various pubs and hotels in Banff and Macduff that offer excellent food options, I feel they’re lacking in good quality modern casual dining options offering something different to the ‘norm’.

“Something to attract the younger generation into the town instead of going to Fraserburgh or Elgin for a McDonald’s, etc.

“However, the costs involved in starting up any kind of food business from scratch are a massive stumbling block for anyone who wants to do this.”

Annie’s Cakery owner shouts for local business association group

Over in Macduff, Annie McDonald opened her successful tearoom, Annie’s Cakery, in June 2016. It is located inside The Platform on Station Brae.

Annie, from Macduff, and her team welcome anything from 1,000 to 2,000 customers every week. School holidays are the busiest periods.

Annie McDonald launched Annie’s Cakery in 2016. Image: Supplied by Annie McDonald

The 30-year-old said: “We have a lovely range of restaurants and cafes in the local area and lots of takeaways. There’s definitely a good selection to cater the local community.”

Annie’s Cakery offers one of the largest cake ranges in the area with gluten and dairy-free options available. They are made by a team of three bakers, including Annie.

The tearoom also sells light lunches and hot and cold drinks.

Expect a selection of home bakes, light lunches, and teas and coffees at the Macduff spot. Image: Chris Sumner

“I feel like the community lacks a fancy bar where you can sit and have a few cocktails and listen to live music,” she adds.

“It’s a shame our local area doesn’t have a business association group where all our businesses could work together to encourage new businesses [to open] and more tourists to visit the area.

“We do have lots to offer here. I’d like to encourage shopping local as much as possible.”

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