Beccy Urquhart, whose family own the Ceilidh Place, is in charge of the food and beverage side of the business. “In the summer we’re very busy with tourists and in the winter we’ve got festivals, exhibitions, events and weddings,” she says. “You don’t have to be in the big city for things to be happening. You just have to be creative. People might say we’re in the middle of nowhere. We prefer to think of it as the centre of the universe.”
Her father, actor Robert Urquhart, founded the business and offered musicians free supper if they played – so long as their music was good enough! That bohemian, free-thinking ethos still holds true. However, when it comes to catering equipment they take a more pragmatic approach. “It needs to be totally reliable,” says Beccy Urquhart. “If something breaks down here it’s a major headache – the nearest service engineer is likely to be a long way away.”
So when it came to replacing their trusty coffee machine, there was only one choice. “The old one was a 17 year-old Gaggia. So of course we went for another one,” she says.
In fact, they decided to go for the same model – the D90. A classic Gaggia design, the latest version features raised coffee brewing heads to allow take-way cups to be placed under them. As well as being reliable, it’s fast. “Although during the week we might only do 100 cups a day, on a busy Saturday afternoon we can serve 300,” says Beccy Urquhart.
The Ceilidh Place gets its coffee equipment from Espresso Services in Glasgow, who also services the machines. Director Steve Martin says they sell plenty of machines to remote parts of the Scottish Highlands and Islands and, wherever possible, they persuade the buyer to take Gaggia. “They are really well built, completely reliable machines,” he says. “They just last and last.
“We serviced the old Gaggia at The Ceilidh Place once a year, and that was it. In all the time we looked after it we had only one call out.”
Reliability wasn’t the only criteria, of course: the coffee needed to taste good, especially since one of the things that keeps customers coming back to the Ceilidh Place is the quality of the food and drink. “When we got our first Gaggia it was just for espresso and cappuccino, and most of the coffee we sold was actually filter,” says Beccy Urquhart. “Today it all comes from the Gaggia and, like any good bar or restaurant offering proper coffee, we have a big menu of espresso-based beverages. The taste and quality is excellent.
“We have discerning customers and lots of them assume that, out here, they won’t get a decent cup of coffee. But we get loads of compliments on how good ours is. We serve it right up to midnight, which gives us a continental buzz that people appreciate.
“There are lots of Italian and French tourists here, too, and we’re always up for impressing them. When we serve them the coffee they often look surprised – they just aren’t expecting a top quality espresso or latte. Then they clock the Gaggia. It’s great.”
The Gaggia range of espresso coffee machines and ancillary equipment is marketed in the UK by Watermark. It is available through catering equipment distributors and coffee specialists. Watermark is currently expanding its distributor network. For information and brochures freephone Gaggia Watermark on 0800 9179879, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.watermark.uk.com
For more news visit the Gaggia Watermark press office at http://www.publicityworks.biz
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