Relaxing at the weekend around some great food, friends and drinks – does it get much better than that?
Contour Cafe in Aberdeen’s The Green is all about promoting these vibes not just at the weekend, but throughout the week too.
Opened since 2012, the venue is a popular staple for all kinds of people. From office workers stopping for a quick coffee to families enjoying brunch, the cafe’s central location in Aberdeen makes it ideal to visit.
But of course, its food and drinks offerings are the real talking point. Breakfast and brunch options are aplenty, but Contour’s fresh, handmade pizzas have become one of its star attractions since launching during lockdown last year.
With plans to extend to an outdoor space in the summer and bring your own beer options already available, Contour Cafe looks set to gain an even bigger following of food lovers in the north-east.
We talked to Contour Cafe co-owner, Andrew Goodenough, to find out more about the business.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m originally from Inverness but I moved to Aberdeen when I was six-years-old. I went on to do business studies at RGU and worked in various cafes and restaurants in Aberdeen. My thesis was actually written around marketing strategies of coffee shops, then me and my business partner – and Contour Cafe co-owner – Dave Anderson went on to open this place in 2012. I’ve always had an interest in hospitality, I’d say. I started off washing dishes in Aberdeen restaurants before working up to coffee shops like Rocksalt & Snails and then eventually thinking about starting my own coffee shop.
I also did some snowboard seasons before starting at Contour which was really great. I went out to Lake Tahoe around California and France between 2006 and 2008 which was amazing. I started snowboarding when I was around 10-years-old and also spent a lot of my free time on the river. I used to go out to Russia for fishing most years, but I don’t think I’ll be heading there any time soon!
Contour Cafe opened in 2012. What was the journey like getting to that stage?
My business partner Dave was travelling over in New Zealand at the time but he hopped on board with the idea when he came back and we essentially started up the cafe as it is now. It took us six months to renovate the space before we opened up shop; we got it in June 2012 and the general upgrading of the building took its time, but we finally opened in December 2012. My friend Callum from Polka in Aberdeen did the design work within the café which was great. The place was really busy from the offset. It started to quieten down a little when a lot of city centre office spaces started becoming vacant and moving to the outskirts of Aberdeen. But now, it’s getting busier again for sure.
You’re well-loved for your pizzas. What makes a Contour Cafe Pizza different to anywhere else?
Dave makes all the pizza dough in-house himself. Liam, our pizza chef, has travelled the world and worked in a really busy pizza restaurant in Australia, so he knows what he’s doing. We actually only started doing pizzas last year during lockdown because we weren’t allowed to open up the cafe – that was the main reason we opted for them. We do still offer delivery on the pizzas, but people tend to come down and eat them at the cafe for the kind of Neapolitan style pizza that they are.
We have classic options like our margherita pizza which is made with our homemade Napoli tomato sauce, Yester Farm fior di latte mozzarella and parmesan cheese. The pepperoni is also popular as well as the Giardino which comes with mozzarella, parmesan, prosciutto and fresh rocket. There are also vegetarian and vegan options available like our falafel pizza.
What other kinds of popular items do you have on your menu?
We have all sorts of options for food throughout the day. We have eggs benedict, pancakes, sandwiches like our Tuna Med which comes with seasoned tuna, olives, roasted peppers, red onion and tomatoes, vegan shawarma kebab wraps, homemade cakes and more.
Our ingredients arrive fresh every day and most of the stuff we make is all in house. One of the girls that works here, her mum does some of the baking as well as my mum too who helps out with making some of the bakes. Teas and coffees are all available, but people are also free to bring their own beer down to the cafe if they like.
How would you describe the day-to-day atmosphere at Contour Cafe?
It’s a very relaxed, chill vibe in the cafe throughout the day. We have all sorts of people come in through door which is great. Our doors are open for all kinds of people.
Given the closure of Aberdeen Market on your doorstep two years ago, would you say there’s a sense of community spirit among local businesses in The Green area?
I’d say so. Every unit up here is now taken as well, which is good to see. We’re actually supplying food to The Old King’s Highway pub which has had new owners in from just before Christmas. They have our menu down at the bar and we just hand dishes down whenever they need them. It’s a great spot to enjoy our pizzas and their beers.
You also run an outside catering side to the cafe called Contour Catering. How popular has this proven to be?
It has been a little quieter overall due to Covid. But within the past few weeks it’s definitely started to pick up again almost to what it was pre-pandemic. We’ve been running this for as long as we’ve had the cafe back in 2012. Low-end, high-end – we do everything. Evening events and office catering around Aberdeen are what we usually cater to.
What does the future hold for Contour Cafe?
We have a grant from the council to build an outdoor seating area, which we’re building the foundations for at the moment. We’re looking to have it all done with a retractable roof by summer hopefully in time for the new planned project opening for the old Aberdeen Market site. We’d like to push forward with the catering side of things further as well, but on the whole, we’re looking to try and keep our customers happy. We’ll take every day as it comes.