Hospitality is not viewed as an industry in Bulgaria but as a personality trait – and it is held very highly.
Those are the words of Martina Dradalova and Boris Borisov, managing directors at Cafe 100, who grew up in families where the house was “always full of guests”.
“The pair of us were grown seeing how amazing it makes us feel to help people feel good and comfortable,” Boris said.
And after working separately in hospitality businesses across the globe for some time, Boris and Martina found it tiresome being around owners that only saw the financial side of running a business.
Eager to take the reins of their own firm, the partners took on Cafe 100, based on Holburn Street in Aberdeen, last year.
Boris added: “There is so much more to running a company in the hospitality industry in our eyes.
“Our combined hospitality experiences range from working in bars, nightclubs, restaurants, catering organisations and organising events for high profile people, both in Aberdeen and overseas.
“As for Cafe 100, it was founded by brothers Juan and Stuart McKenzie in 2016, and Martina and I took over the mantle of running it last year.
“It was founded as a family business and continues to be run like one. Currently, the team consists of just five people.
“We are a very tight team, which creates an atmosphere of homeliness in the cafe, and we value very much how our guests feel from the moment they walk in through the front door to the moment they leave.”
When it comes to the drinks offering at the well-liked coffee shop, guests can opt for a varied selection of coffees and milkshakes, with flavours including caramel, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut and banana.
However, Martina says that the team plans to expand the drinks menu in the near future.
“We offer one blend of pure, high-value Colombian coffee as it goes back to the roots of the cafe,” Martina said.
“Something that is very popular amongst guests is our vast selection of milks – comprising oat, almond, soya and coconut – and syrups, opening up to endless combinations. These are available at no supplement charge.
“Personally, our favourites are the coconut mocha as it adds another refreshing layer to a very standard drink.”
Boris added: “Or the banana milkshake as we make it with real bananas, adding a layer of creaminess and thickness. It makes it taste so much better – and I always add a cheeky spoon of peanut butter.”
And while the drinks line-up is tempting, Cafe 100 is also well-known for its all-day breakfasts.
Martina said: “All our breakfasts are made to order and our new menu focuses extensively on making everything in-house.
“In the moments where we cannot, we only source from local suppliers and present their craftsmanship, such as our homemade cakes made by Inverurie-based From Bakery Lane.”
Boris added: “Our breakfasts need no advertising, everyone loves a good fry-up.
“However, we always recommend people try the crumpet range, which features an avo salmon crumpet, veggie crumpet, Benedict crumpet – Cafe 100’s take on the classic eggs Benedict – and much more.
“That is the part of the menu where we show something a bit healthier, more creative and different for breakfast, served with a touch of flair.
“The most popular option is the make your own breakfast, offering customers the opportunity to build their own fry-up with items that they would like – and as many of them as they would like.
“The team is very hands own. While Martina and I are the ones that deal with all the managerial aspects and pick out the produce, the team collectively makes the coffees, cooks the breakfasts and meets the regulars.
“We need to make sure personally that every step of the guest experience is to our satisfaction.”
Martina and Boris take great pride in how they have helped build Cafe 100, refusing to let the difficult period get the better of them.
The dynamic duo even has plans to open up their own outdoor seating area, as well.
“Martina and I are very proud of what we have built,” Boris said. “Cafe 100 is family for us.
“It means fighting for the dreams we have, and building something that will create pleasant memories and experiences for all the people that have come and supported us.
“The pair of us have a great work ethic and pay special attention to the little details. And the cafe itself has a friendly and relaxing attitude, not only for our staff and customers but to the drivers that are part of the business as well.
“We value and appreciate every single thing that happened to us so far and love the path we have chosen.”
Martina added: “Since taking the reins of the cafe, the highlight for us has been our success on the delivery platforms.
“Trading in these difficult conditions was very scary. However, Boris and I are very grateful for the support of all our patrons even when we couldn’t open our doors for them.
“We cannot wait to see our customers again, but we are also very happy that the Scottish government has taken a cautious approach to reopen. We completely understand the responsibility and burden that will fall on all hospitality venues in making sure that cases remain low.
“Boris and I are already working on our new menu, but are also hoping to expand our delivery business.
“On that note, we can’t wait to open our doors for customers again and see all our old regulars.
“We have plenty planned in terms of changes with a lot happening behind the scenes.
“Both of us are also always on the lookout for new suppliers with fresher produce and better quality ingredients.
“And to give out a spicier secret, we are planning the development of our outdoor seating area away from the hustle of Holburn Street – watch this space.”
Round of Questions
Check out how Martina Dradalova and Boris Borisov, Cafe 100’s managing directors, got on in our round of questions below.
What’s your customer ice breaker?
We don’t have a generic ice breaker really. We always tailor it to make our guests feel at home.
It’s the end of your shift – what do you pour yourself?
A Red Bull so we can start salsa dancing straight away.
If you were a coffee/drink, what would you be and why?
M: I would be a Bailey’s latte with whipped cream as I’m sweet to the point of intoxicating.
B: I would be an Irish coffee. I’m a combination of slightly bitter, followed by a flaming explosion of warmth.
Most unusual coffee/drink you’ve ever tried?
A mocha with hot chocolate, almond milk, cow milk, caramel syrup, sweetener and two shots of coffee.
What would the theme song to your average shift be?
Jennifer Lopez – Let’s Get Loud.
What’s in your drinks cabinet at home?
Well, it’s better equipped than some bars…
Best food and drink pairing?
Mimosa with homemade banana and blueberry pancakes.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what three drinks would be there with you?
Water with mint and lime, Rioja and Islay Whiskey.
You have to make a drink to represent Aberdeen. What would that be?
We’re not too sure, but it would probably have Marmite as Aberdeen is not for everybody – you either love it or hate it.
You have to serve your favourite superhero or celebrity a drink. Who is it and what do you serve them?
Cat woman. We would serve her milk.