Scottish Enterprise Awards 2020

24 | Scottish Enterprise Awards 2020 Oct20876 Best Highlands Small Restaurant 2020 What started with an old and empty pottery building has since been transformed into a warm, welcoming, and cosy space full of vibrant colours and up-cycled furniture. To some, the decision to prove that a small and independent business could survive the Scottish winters in such a seasonal area as John O’Groats, staying open all year round and serving both tourists and local alike may have seemed a tad rash. Yet, that is exactly what the Wymer family decided to do. Alongside her family, They managed to turn a profit in the first year of opening Stacks Bistro & Coffee House, and won several awards along the way. Since then, the bistro has continued to grow and given employment to over fifty locals on the way. At its heart, Stacks is all about teamwork; it is a place where everyone can muck in together, sharing their opinions and having a good laugh along the way. There is character and spirit in abundance here at Stacks, and a deep-rooted sense of community that is impossible to shift. It is very much an institution in the heart of this rural community in northern Scotland. Stacks has also built a reputation on a very unique claim. It is the Most Northerly Restaurant on the British Mainland, which is a trait that has proven to be very good for trade. For those making the gruelling end-to-end journey from Land’s End, Stacks represents the perfect place for hundreds of walkers, bikers, and cyclists who are in desperate need of sit down and a perfect bite to eat. Situated not far from the ferry port for the Orkney Isles also means there is a whole other customer base for Stacks to tap into. There is no shortage of locals and tourists alike, and all can find something to enjoy in Stacks’ wonderful collection of produce and drinks. The popularity of the NC500 route has grown year on year, and the location of John O’Groats has become a gift to Stacks. It is a financial blessing that visitors flock to the area from all over the world. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has proved an obvious challenge. Determined not to let it beat them, the team at Stacks made the difficult decision to close but maintain an element of service. An online shop was set up as a place for customers to buy brownie boxes from all over the United Kingdom, and the team also started running a takeaway meals service for locals to collect. During the panic buying phase that the United Kingdom went through early into the first lockdown, Stacks also operated a click- and-collect service for essentials, making that vulnerable customers had enough food and basic supplies. With an uncertain winter still taking place, the online shop is still open and a recently released recipe book has proven very successful for Stacks. The people are what makes Stacks what it is. Communities come together and the people support this fantastic local bistro in ways that only local communities can. The bistro itself pays little regard to the traditional CV and hiring process. Instead, new recruits are judged solely on their manner. Workers have common sense, a great sense of humour, a real interest in hearty food, a genuine interest in people, and a deep love for dogs. This self-confessed motley crew of individuals is warm and welcoming at all times, with some having gone on to pursue careers in hospitality teaching or becoming a chef. There is a real sense of pride, and rightfully so. Stacks is a wonderful place, and there can be no doubt that it is fully deserving of this recognition. At a time when British business may feel swamped under the looming threat of lockdown and infection, Stacks stands out as a beacon of hope for a brighter future when we will all be together again, enjoying superb food and wonderful company. Company: Stacks Bistro & Coffee House Contact: Rebecca Wymer Website: Scotland is home to some of the most wonderful produce in the world, from fresh fish caught in the North Sea to prime Aberdeen angus beef. Better yet, the Scottish certainly know how to prepare their food and serve it in a way that is truly delicious, and that is certainly the case at Stacks Bistro & Coffee House in the Scottish Highlands. Run by a mother and daughter duo have built the business from scratch on traditional family values, this fantastic bistro epitomises the ethos of the Scottish Enterprise Awards 2020. Find out more about this outstanding business as we take a closer look at what it has to offer.