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Owner of Mountain Cafe forced to close due to lockdown now thriving at Grantown bakery

Kirsten Gilmour at KJ's Bothy Bakery.
Kirsten Gilmour at KJ's Bothy Bakery.

The owner of a cafe which closed to much disappointment early in the pandemic has launched a new bakery.

Kirsten Gilmour ran the Mountain Cafe in Aviemore for 16 years, picking up awards, writing a best-selling cookbook and being a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike.

But after the first lockdown, she made the “devastating” decision not to reopen.

Now she is back however, with KJ’s Bothy Bakery in her home of Grantown.

KJ’s Bothy Bakery was born out of lockdown, starting as a door-step bakery and delivery service before taking on a permanent base in Achnagonalin Industrial Estate.

‘The support from our customers was humbling’

Mrs Gilmour explained how moving the business from Aviemore to Grantown helped it transform into what it is today.

“We closed the cafe a couple of days before the lockdown started as we didn’t feel comfortable for both our customers and staff,” she said.

“We never imagined what was to come, or that it would never re-open.

“With a heap of debt to local and national suppliers, I started baking from the house hoping to cover at least some of the local supplier’s bills. Furlough was going to cover staff wages and we committed to top up the 20% gap to ensure full pay for our team.

KJ’s Bothy Bakery in Grantown.

“I sold my baking from the door at our house here in Grantown. The local support was incredible and the support from our customers nationally was humbling.

“We posted hundreds of millionaires slices out each week. We employed some local teenagers to help manage the post as it became so busy. In the end we posted thousands of slices all over Britain.”

‘Getting to know Grantown’

The different work environment made Mrs Gilmour realise that she could balance work and life better if she stayed in Grantown.

She said: “This was really exciting as I have always wanted to work with my community. Aviemore didn’t have that. Grantown does. Using the local shops for ingredients, hardware, and meat was so rewarding.

“Getting to know Grantown better was so amazing. The cafe was so busy that I never had the chance to really get involved at all here at home, or shop as locally as I wanted to. The cafe was a monster that consumed me.”

KJ’s Bothy Bakery has expanded its repertoire to include lunches and a home delivery service, made possible by bikes Hank the Hunk and Frank the Tank.

Mrs Gilmour said: “We are still embracing the madness but loving it: loving Grantown and loving the buzz that producing our baking and food gives to people.

“Being able to bike to work, bike home through the woods and switch off at the end of the day is magic.”

‘Aviemore’s loss is Grantown’s gain’

The bakery is one of many food and drink businesses being highlighted by Grantown Business Association. Their aim is to draw attention to the local industry talent.

Karen Martin, chairwoman of the association, said: “The loss of the Mountain Cafe was a shock to everyone in this area.

“But Aviemore’s loss is definitely Grantown’s gain. We are delighted to have Kirsten and her team based here. The Bothy Bakery has a brilliant range of products that are perfect for a picnic in our wonderful town.”

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