Cafes that are solely vegan are few and far between. In fact, they are scarce in Moray.
“With so many vegan cafes closing down in the last few months, it makes us all the more determined to weather the storm,” says husband and wife Keith and Tara Marshall, from Cullen.
Elgin recently lost its first-ever 100% vegan cafe, Cafe Kombucha, in July due to rising costs.
Around a one-hour drive to the West, in the Highlands, Inverness vegan restaurant The Alleycat also closed its doors for the final time just weeks before.
It is a tough market to tackle, but Keith and Tara feel they will “make it through this rough patch” on the back of opening their own vegan cafe, The New Denver, in August.
The New Denver
Located in the seaside town of Cullen, The New Denver has been refurbished in a former bakeshop known as the Denver Bakery.
It boasts a team of six and a small, intimate dining room where lunchtime service and bistro nights will be held.
Bistro nights involve guests tucking into a three-course menu and run from 6pm to 8pm on Fridays. They have proved popular and each one has sold out to date.
The dining room capacity is 16, while there are also some exterior tables at the front of the eatery that can seat four people.
Keith and Tara ran two businesses before launching The New Denver.
They included Filly Your Cup, a horsebox converted into a mobile food van that served barista-style coffee and cakes at events around the north-east, and Cullen-based The Loft Coffee House.
Tara said: “We ran The Loft Coffee House for two years.
“The business was very successful, however, there were restrictions on the business imposed by our landlord which prevented us from expanding and making the business profitable.
“Adaptability is key in any business at the moment and this was not possible in the location of The Loft. The new premises [the location of The New Denver] was a godsend as we knew we had an excellent business model with bags of potential.
“This is what leads us to open The New Denver.”
Why a vegan cafe?
Keith and Tara’s family have been vegan for four years.
Despite there being more options available for vegans than ever before, the couple felt the local offering was still limited, hence why they decided to focus on vegan cuisine.
Keith said: “We know it’s not for everyone but are constantly surprised and encouraged by the number of nonvegans who stumble upon us and love what we do.
“We operate as ‘non-scary vegans’ and hope our dishes hold their own in tastiness.”
The menu includes homemade soup of the day served with crusty bread, toasties – fillings of which include cheddar cheese with red onion, applewood smoked cheese with roast peppers, and garlic mushroom and cheddar cheese melt – burgers and waffles.
However, the majority of dishes available at The New Denver are daily specials. These range from pastries and cakes to baked potatoes.
Not only can the food and drink be enjoyed sitting in, but a takeaway service is also available.
Tara added: “Our daily specials allow us the flexibility to change the menu to customer feedback, seasons, and the weather.
“The ability to trial new dishes is important to us as it keeps things interesting both for us and our customers. There is nothing worse than a stagnant menu.”
‘We’ve poured our hearts and souls into the business’
Despite opening less than two months ago, the community has shown significant support for the new business.
Keith and Tara spent a great deal of time pulling it together, fitting it out, and decorating the interior themselves.
“Although some of the skirting boards are squint and shelves are a little wonky, we’ve poured our hearts and souls into the business and are extremely proud of the outcome,” says Tara.
“Every small business is having a difficult time at the moment, vegan or not, and it has been hard to see so many like ours struggling.
“Our main goal is to survive the next year and be in a position where we can earn a living for our business.”
The New Denver is currently open from noon to 3pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon to 4pm and 6pm to 8pm on Friday, and noon to 4pm on Sunday. Please be aware that these hours may change in the future.
For more information, visit The New Denver on Facebook.