Celebrating Adulthood - The Cafe Is 18!

Celebrating Adulthood - The Cafe Is 18!

Eighteen years ago today, a dream of opening a cafe in the site of a former derelict Little Chef came true for our director Sarah and her late husband, Steve Wolsey. 

As Sarah puts it: "It's been a hell of a journey, with some tremendous ups and downs, both personally and professionally."

Since 2011, Sarah has run our Cafe with her husband, Alan McColm. Together, they built the successful business that you see today.

Building A World-Class Team, Challenging Teen Years

The challenges our industry faces are greater than ever. However, we have one major & unique advantage over everyone else in Rural Scotland; our special, unique & world-class team.

Looking back, we wouldn't have been able to open the Cafe and get off base if it wasn't for our first team of Polish workers, as no locals responded to our job ads in the beginning. Over the years, our mix of locals heavily supported by Eastern European workers has been vital to maintaining and growing the business and getting us to this point.

The hospitality industry is in the midst of a real staffing crisis. We're not going to pretend that developing such a strong team has been easy. Last year was our most challenging year ever. We were understaffed and found it difficult to cope with the demand following two years in lockdown. We had to abandon our plans to try and expand to Glasgow.

The lack of rural affordable and social housing, local public transport and other infrastructure has continued to be a constant challenge and barrier to business growth from day 1 and has only got worse as well. 

However, we are determined “To build, nurture and ‘let loose’ a world-class team” and so we persevere and carry on.

At this point, we probably have the highest rate of retention, of any of our competitors in rural Scotland. Thanks to our team we have set new standards and have proudly played our part in elevating service and quality in hospitality across rural Scotland. We continue to develop our business and the work we do more widely upon these foundations.


Leaving a Mark

We're also proud to have used our business as a platform to lead projects that would add value to our local community and the wider industry which was always our aim. In our 18 years, we have contributed to, sponsored, or led several projects on a local, national & global level (view our Legacy Projects and Work in the Community pages). 

We've fundraised enough money to build over 130 toilets in Malawi for schools and communities Through Toilet Twinning

We host regular community litter-picking events in Tyndrum. 

We are currently fundraising to build a Changing Places UK Toilet in Tyndrum. 

Furthermore, Sarah is a Regional Food Tourism Ambassador and Director of Forth Valley Food and Drink C.I.C.


Thank You All

In Sarah's words: "It's been a life-enhancing journey on so many levels and it's never been boring!" 

To our suppliers, partners, loyal customers and supporters today and over the years, we heartily thank you, one and all. The Cafe's success wouldn't have been possible without everyone's support. 

A special shoutout to our hard worker, Aiden, who was born the same week the cafe opened and is also celebrating his 18th birthday this week as well!

Seeing young people, whose role with us is often their first-ever work experience, develop their confidence, work ethic and social skills is an enormously fulfilling experience and we enjoy being the stepping stone for their careers. 

Happy 18th birthday to The Real Food Cafe, Happy birthday to us! 

There's a timeline of the Cafe's journey on https://therealfoodcafe.com/pages/about-us if you'd like to learn more about our journey.