Couple fight against overwhelming odds to open The Lass O’Gowrie to Errol

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It took a while to happen but Alison and Robert Abercrombie can finally breathe a sigh of relief after opening their new cafe in Errol.

The Perthshire couple, affectionately known to their customers as Ali and Bob, battled evictions, the pandemic and Brexit trade delays to open their new venue, The Lass O’Gowrie, there a few weeks.

Based in Errol’s former Victoria Hall, unused for eight years, the couple spent a year and a half renovating the space after having to close their former business, Alibob Café, because their landlord gave them short notice mid – pandemic.

AliBob Café won the 2019 Coffee of the Year award with The Courier Menu Food and Drink Awards.

The couple had built a strong community after running the place for six years. When they were forced to take their mobile business and offer food deliveries in Perth and Tayside in December 2020, it was well received and fully booked.

They delivered everything from boxes of vegetables and food to homemade pastries and soups.

The team’s efforts paid off and the company survived until 2021.

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Ali and Bob in front of The Lass O’Gowrie

Ali and Bob also broke their £10,000 Crowdfunder which they launched late last year to help support their dream of opening The Lass O’Gowrie.

And with the help of Perth And Kinross Council, the duo managed to secure the historic venue owned by Errol Park Estate and haven’t looked back since it opened.

What does Lass O’Gowrie offer?

Aptly named The Lass O’Gowrie after the variety of apples found in the village of Errol, the venue focuses on providing sustainable, local and seasonal produce.

Ali said, “The apple tree itself is about rooting in the community, supporting and branching out into the community, and then nurturing the community.

“It is at the heart of our company’s brand image.”

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Homemade cakes and platters every day.

Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., a mix of soups, sandwiches, salads and toasts are available, as well as all homemade cakes, scones and traybakes.

“We kept it simple and focused on what we do best,” she added.

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Mezze soup offering a trio of soups.

Three soups of the day are served, which change daily, along with a unique soup mezze offering where customers can sample smaller portions of the three in a tasting platter.

With a total of 40 seats inside, the duo plan to add another 30 seats outside once they have the facilities in place.

Invest in your dream

There’s no denying that The Lass O’Gowrie was a labor of love for Ali and Bob.

They financed and used their pension money by selling their house so that they could bring their dream to life and create jobs again for the former AliBob cafe staff.

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Victoria Hall and Albert House.

Ali said, “We sold our property, which was our pension, and invested it in this business to fund it.

“We have also received £35,000 in support from Perth and Kinross Council with the Vacant Property Fund, which specializes in vacant historic buildings, what Victoria Hall used to be.”

And Ali says if it hadn’t been for the support of their loyal customers with the Crowdfunder, their business might not be like what it is today.

Future plans

After enjoying the first few weeks of success, future plans for the cafe include a retail section in Victoria Hall for gifts from local artisans.

In addition to this, there are plans to boast a farm shop where The Lass O’Gowrie will work with local organic growers to sell seasonal produce.

This includes local berries from Arnotts and Arbuckle’s Farm Shop and artisan bread from Wild Hearth Bakery.

Inside the cafe with plans for evening events.

Additionally, a refrigerated section for small beverage producers would include products like Lost Orchards Cider.

And since the venue is fully licensed, the team has plans to host events including gin and whiskey tasting nights.


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