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New Inverness cafe aims to serve up job opportunities for young people and zero waste policy

Rachel and Drew Hardiman sitting at a table in their cafe. A plate with three scones in front of them.
Rachel and Drew Hardiman will run the new venture in Inverness.

A new cafe opening in a climbing centre in Inverness aims to give young people a leg-up with their careers.

Drew and Rachel Hardiman, owners of the Coffee Bothy in Contin, will run Raven’s Rock, a new venture in the Inverness Climbing Gym opening this year.

The premises will be part of an adventure sports hub The Ledge charity aims to create in Telford Street.

Helping young people seeking jobs

The couple say they are committed to hiring young people looking for job opportunities in the hospitality sector.

They also want to partner with local charities to offer a safe and positive place for youths to socialise.

In addition, the duo will operate a zero-waste policy with any excess food distributed to local food banks and homeless shelters.

Rachel said: “In my last work we had a grant scheme to take on young people who were maybe struggling in school and had left early, had autism, had drug-related issues etc and we would give them the opportunity to work in the cafe.

“They learn food prep skills, coffee making, customer service and we would be there to help them through things.

Impression of planned climbing wall in Inverness.

“We know that there are lots of young people in the area of The Ledge who are needing this kind of help.

“We realise there is a need for activities for younger people and for community initiatives which can boost mental health by bringing people together and being in a positive space which is what The Ledge and Raven’s Rock will offer.”

The centre will have Scotland’s only Olympic-standard bouldering wall, as well as climbing and training facilities for people at every level.

The charity says it will create about 40 jobs and boost the local economy by £1 million.

Last month it was revealed the supplier of climbing walls to the Tokyo Olympics, Entre-Prises (EP), has been awarded a £500,000 contract to help create the state-of-the-art facility.

Lifelong employment and career development

The Ledge CEO Duncan McCallum said: “The Raven’s Rock Cafe is planning to work closely with The Ledge Charity, particularly in their work on life skills leading to greater employability and therefore lifelong employment and career development.

“We will phase into The Ledge’s long-term mentoring programmes, offering participants a real opportunity to work directly with customers and clients, as well as learning the nuances of modern relaxed and efficient tourism and hospitality.”

He said The Ledge is in talks with the University of the Highlands and Islands about offering placements for students studying sport, tourism and hospitality.

“Our hope at Raven’s Rock is that some of our mentored young people could even move into further education through these opportunities.”

Duncan McCallum, The Ledge's chief executive, outside the Telford Street building that will house the Inverness climbing centre. Picture by Sandy McCook
Duncan McCallum, The Ledge’s chief executive, outside the Telford Street building that will house the climbing facility. Picture by Sandy McCook

The café will feature coffee from independent coffee roasters, Dear Green, and an Ottolenghi-style menu with seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients.

It plans to hold regular events, including music, art exhibitions, dances, open mic nights and film nights.

Drew Hardiman said he and Rachel are “beyond excited” to be part of the new venture.

“Having the opportunity to be in a more central position within the Highlands will give us all the tools we need to be able to achieve what we wanted when we first opened the Coffee Bothy at the end of 2019.

Cafe aims to bring the community together

“(That is) a space that brings the community together, offers organic, wholesome and traditional food to a wider audience, promotes zero-waste living and hosts a variety of events that celebrate Highland culture and traditional values.

“We really can’t wait to share all our ideas with the local area.”

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