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Simple Bee cafe in Rosemount creates quite the buzz with loaded bagels and doughnuts galore

El Diablo and The Provocative are two of the bagels creating a buzz at Simple Bee. Image: Kenny Elrick / DC Thomson
El Diablo and The Provocative are two of the bagels creating a buzz at Simple Bee. Image: Kenny Elrick / DC Thomson

Ramona Obafemi is a well-known face in the north-east food and drink scene.

She owned The Highlander Cafe Bus on Beach Boulevard before opening Mad Potato greengrocers and Vibe cafe.

But Ramona’s latest venture is something completely different for both her and for Aberdeen.

Nestled away in the Rosemount area of the city is Simple Bee, a bustling cafe specialising in bagels and doughnuts.

It’s safe to say there’s a fair buzz about the place, with the team already looking to recruit more staff before the summer season.

Ramona Obafemi took over Simple Bee last year. Image: Kenny Elrick / DC Thomson

We spoke to Ramona about exactly what is going on behind its doors and how we can get our hands on one of her glorious creations.

When did you take over Simple Bee?

I just took over the cafe in August last year, it was kind of like a sandwich shop before so we have changed the menu.

The previous owner had a baby and wanted to focus more on that. We had a chat, then it just kind of happened naturally.

How did you get into the hospitality industry?

It was actually by pure chance, I had no experience whatsoever.

About six years ago, my husband and I converted a double decker bus and put it on the beach, The Highlander Cafe Bus, that did really well and still is as far as I know, I sold it in 2020.

That was a big learning curve, then I started a greengrocer which didn’t work out the best. Inflation was going crazy and I took the decision to close.

The team at Simple Bee. Image: Kenny Elrick / DC Thomson

Why bagels?

I just wanted something other than sandwiches. Our bagels are not your regular bagels, they’re stuffed or have oozing cream inside, loads of different things.

No one in the UK is doing them the way we do them, we’re just trying to keep improving them and moving forward.

What kind of reactions do people have to the bagels?

They’re not just toasted bagels like people expect, so when they see them they say ‘oh my gosh’.

I think people were a bit reluctant at first because of what they were expecting, it took a while for them to catch on but now they love them.

The Provocative bagel is like nothing you’ve ever tried before. Image: Kenny Elrick / DC Thomson

Where do you buy your fillings?

We have developed our own recipes and we make almost everything in house. We were originally getting our bagels from a supplier, but now we’ve started making them ourselves too.

Do you like coming up with new ideas?

I enjoy creating new dishes, we experiment a lot in the kitchen. With our lunches, for example, we make ourselves things that are not on the menu to try them out.

It comes quite naturally to me, I can imagine what something is going to taste like just by knowing what ingredients are in it.

I love cooking, I am not a chef in any shape or form, but I grew up around my grandma and mum so I have been helping in the kitchen since I was about six.

I come from Romania, so food is something that brings the family together, you would never go into a household there and not be offered food, you’ll always leave full.

Tell us more about the doughnuts?

We’ve been testing different flavours like Kinder Bueno, Mars and Jammie Dodger, but we’re going to start getting a bit more creative with them soon.

Don(u)t you love that Friday feeling🥳 Simple Bee doughnuts are flying off the shelves today so come and grab one before it’s too late 🍩#simplebee #doughnuts #donuts #aberdeen #aberdeencafe #cafeaberdeen

Posted by Simple Bee on Friday, 3 February 2023

Are you as creative with your drinks?

We have typical coffees and things but we also have things like beetroot and rose matchas, strawberry hot chocolates and apple pie cappuccinos.

Those were more in the winter, but now we are moving into spring we’re going to focus more on iced lattes and smoothies.

Has Simple Bee been busy?

We’re getting busier and busier. I was expecting January and February to be bad, because they are usually for hospitality, but it has been madness. That’s why we think summer is going to be chaos, but that’s a good thing.

The cafe is located in Rosemount. Image: Kenny Elrick / DC Thomson

How many of you are on the team?

There are only four of us, but we’re getting a fifth person because we can’t cope anymore. That will help us plan ahead and keep on expanding the business.

What are your customers like?

Our customers are absolutely amazing. Rosemount is a wonderful place, I live there too so it’s my absolute favourite place in Aberdeen.

People can make your day, you get to know them and you go into work having a good time on top of all the hard work.

A number of fresh bakes are available in the cafe. Image: Kenny Elrick / DC Thomson

What do you think of the Aberdeen food scene?

Honestly, I think Aberdeen is the toughest market when it comes to food.

But I have noticed over the years that there has been a big increase in the number of people who do want to try something new.

What are the most popular items on the menu?

The three bagels that stand out the most to me are the Ying and Yang which is salt and pepper chicken, the Flying Pig which is pulled pork and the Avo Bird which is a grilled chicken and avocado bagel.

It’s strange, each week it seems there is one that is the most popular, then it changes.

We’re starting a bagel club for our regular customers soon, they will be able to access an exclusive bagel that isn’t on the menu and taste things before we start selling them.

We want to be close to our customers and give them a voice.

Do you enjoy working in the industry, given you didn’t have much experience six years ago?

I love it. I do have a tendency to be interested in quite a lot of industries, I also have extensive knowledge in circular strategy, oil and gas and tech for example.

Hospitality is a back-breaking industry, you never have holidays or time off, you can’t call in sick, but I still go into work with pleasure.

I know the team are going to make each other’s days, it’s not just about work it’s about friendships and relationships.

Ramona and the team are excited for the future. Image: Kenny Elrick / DC Thomson

What are your plans moving forward?

Because we’re closed in the evenings at the moment, we’re in discussions with some businesses about organising events.

March is busy because we’re hosting the Business Gateway’s Women in Business event and some kids events too.

We also hope to rebrand soon. I think it’s going to be a very busy year.

Visit Simple Bee at 68 Rosemount Place or find out more on Instagram and Facebook.