Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A different kind of trade fair

Yesterday, with a different hat on, I travelled down to another trade fair in Glasgow.  This was nothing to do with Starfish Studio, but all about a very exciting project that I'm involved with - setting up a Community Cafe in Johnshaven.

In our village we have Johnshaven Stores (the best convenience store in the world), Starfish Studio, Odysee hairdressers and two pubs, one of which serves excellent food.  What we need above all else is a cafe. 

For the locals it will provide a much needed meeting, eating and socialising place other than a pub.  All profits made will go back into helping community groups in the village so everyone benefits.

I am constantly being asked by visitors where they can get a coffee - the shop does hot & cold takeaway drinks and the Anchor Hotel serves coffee, but there is a big difference between those options and a cosy cafe serving yummy homemade cakes and frothy hot chocolate.

So, yesterday, on behalf of the Community Cafe Group committee, I visited the ScotHot exhibition at the SECC.  The sun shone beautifully, and I enjoyed my lunch sitting down by the River Clyde before going in to the show.

The new BBC Scotland building and Glasgow Science Centre


The 'Wonky' bridge

The Finnieston Crane and, in the foreground, work in progress on a velodrome for the Commonwealth Games in 2014
 Once inside it didn't take long to realise I was well out of my comfort zone!  I know nothing about catering and have never worked in a cafe or pulled a pint!  The first couple of stalls I visted used jargon that meant nothing to me, so from then on I approached each stall differently - explaining my ignorance before they had a chance to launch into their sale patter!

The whole atmosphere was very different to the craft and gift trade fairs I'm used to - bustling and noisy with lots and lots of young people, mostly male.  Eventually I realised that there was a competitive element to the show and that many of these youngsters were representing and supporting various catering colleges.

A competition in full swing

There was a huge amount to look at and I came away with mountains of brochures for the committee to work through.  There are massive companies who'll design and supply everything from the entire kitchen, servery area, tables and chairs right down to crockery & cutlery.  There were also other stalls focusing on one product - I particularly liked a waffle maker with all kinds of delicious serving suggestions (nom nom!).

Free tasting samples were on offer everywhere and I enjoyed small portions of yummy thick milkshake, ice cream, mars bar crispy, pizza slice, waffle, hot chocolate etc etc. 

There were competitions for creations in chocolate, icing and sugar and the entries were on display for all to see.  Take a look at these amazing, edible works of art!

A sugar lobster

I'm going back down to Glasgow again on Saturday - this time with my younger daughter for company and firmly back in my comfort zone.  We're going to the Hobbycrafts & Creative Stitches exhibition at the SECC, staying overnight in a hotel and having a girly time - can't wait!


  1. I hope you got plenty of tasters! It sounds a great project - a community cafe, but cannot believe that Johnshaven doesn't have a cafe. There are so many cafes in the town near me. there is also a sustainable cafe in a lovely rural setting - they gathered all their furnishings second hand (obviously in good condition) and it looked great. It saves so much money and often people are throwing away such good quality stuff. Good luck with your project (I know how you hate that 'jump down your throat' sales patter!)

  2. Which sustainable cafe would that be Kathryn? Do they have a website?
    Last week I visited community cafe projects in Maud, Strichen & New Pitsligo - all very different from each other. It was really interesting to talk to people about how they got funding, organise staffing etc etc. There's a very steep learning curve ahead of us but we're excited and very positive about the future.

  3. I wish I'd known and I could have chatted to you about it yesterday at the shop. I've just spent a few years helping get a community cafe ready to open where I live. The opening is imminent and there are loads of people ready and willing to help!

    I missed the Hobbycraft show due to proir commitments too, maybe next year!

    Best of luck with your project :)

  4. Oh how exciting! Is this the one in Tayport that I've been reading about? When's the big day?


Thanks so much for reading my blog.
I love receiving your comments :)