Scotland’s leading independent garden centre partners with Catering Design Group

Catering Design Group (CDG), the award winning restaurant and commercial kitchen design company for the hospitality industry, has completed the first phase of a partnership with Raemoir Garden Centre, one of Scotland?s leading independently managed garden centres.

Raemoir Garden Centre has been helping and advising gardeners for almost 25 years. Its catering operation is considered the ?engine room? of the garden centre and currently accounts for 30% of the garden centres revenue, against an industry norm of between 15-20%.

The Garden Restaurant and Raemoir Caf? with 100 covers, enjoy an enviable reputation for providing visitors with an extensive offering of creatively prepared dishes, using quality, seasonal produce and whenever possible, locally sourced ingredients.? A dedicated team operate across the kitchen, bakery and front of house to deliver across the breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea services.

The brief to CDG for the first phase of the partnership was to find a solution that would create synergy between front and back of house and drive footfall 12 months of the year. The existing coffee bar area was tight, crowded and poorly located between the kitchen area and restaurant. The space around the pass was restricted, causing issues for the chefs and front of house teams, whilst the kitchen space was limited to plate up.

CDG answered the brief by conducting a feasibility report for the entire catering operation, defining an 18 month strategy with processes which would allow Raemoir to improve communication and flows between front and back of house, whilst also giving the business the space to evolve the catering operation at a pace they were comfortable with.

Working within a very tight timeline of just three weeks, CDG completely re-designed the front of house operation, removing the existing servery counter to improve the synergy between front and back of house to make the two operationally efficient. A new coffee bar area was created to allow greater space for customers and for the business to use as a display area, complemented by the latest coffee making equipment. A large, contemporary, chilled ambient display space was incorporated to showcase home baked items and the creation of a new ?double-sided? hot pass is now a focal feature of the restaurant space with additional storage – maximising efficiency for waiting staff when collecting and collating service orders, whilst also providing the chefs with an improved plating and serving area.

CDG used an innovative mix of materials to give a natural, soft, yet robust feel.? Counters were clad in an engineered board, more typically used for flooring, with a greyish wood finish, offset by a stone-effect Corian counter top.? Bespoke shelving was added to the back bar to maximise storage; and a display area with a whitewashed wood-effect laminate finish was included to complement the natural tones and provide durability and ease of cleaning.

Philip Howard, Managing Director Catering Design Group commented: ?It was a huge honour to work in partnership with Raemoir Garden Centre to resolve the operational issues they were facing and this is typical of how we like to work alongside our clients to make sure that we deliver a design solution which ticks all of the boxes in terms of visual appeal and functionality. We know the strategic plan and processes we have put in place to further evolve the catering business at Raemoir will ensure continued growth of their catering business in the future.?

Testimonial Elliot Mair, Managing Director, Raemoir Garden Centre, Banchory, Scotland

I read some great insight given by Catering Design Group (CDG) in a trade industry publication about the importance of creating synergy between front and back of house ? an issue we were experiencing ourselves. As a business we choose to work with a close network of trusted specialists, who take the time to really get under the skin of our business, listen carefully to what we want to achieve and then deliver on our brief. CDG is such a company, from our initial meeting it was clear that they weren?t working to their own sales agenda, but were genuinely focused on working collaboratively with us to deliver our brief.

Over the past 25 years, we have grown Raemoir to a decent level and catering is one of the most successful areas accounting for 30% of our overall turnover, which we appreciate is far higher than the current industry standard. However, we were at a stage in our journey where we required a strategic plan to evolve our path for the future and would help to drive footfall 12 months of the year.

The brief to CDG was to take a strategic look at our overall operation and create an evolutionary plan which would allow us to grow our catering business in stages, without impacting on the day-to-day running of our business. As a crucial and already successful part of our operation it was important to us that we didn?t compromise our winning formula, but continue to evolve for the future. We are very aware that customer expectations have changed dramatically over the last 5-10 years and are far more sophisticated than we could have ever imagined at the outset.? We feel we need to keep abreast of eating-out trends and customer habits to ensure we continue to grow and this is an area of expertise in which the team at CDG particularly excel.

Managing Director, Philip Howard, created an 18 month strategic plan with processes which will allow us to drive the project at a pace we are comfortable with.? Stage one has seen them address our key issue – creating synergy between front and back of house, which has been meticulously resolved by the creation of a new pass to link the kitchen with front of house.? CDG took great care to source specialist equipment that suited our requirements, and not simply what they wanted to sell to us. They have also delivered a fantastic refurbishment to our front of house and public areas.

Part of our strategy for phase one involved introducing a full waitress service. CDG gave us guidance on the development of our existing EPOS system, advising us on the latest integrated, handheld/tablet devices now available, which we hugely appreciated, because they were already thinking about how we needed to evolve in the future. This is the level of expertise that we truly value, as it gave us the confidence to take the next step with our EPOS supplier.

Our partnership with CDG has exceeded our expectations. Our catering space is the engine room of the garden centre. Already having 100 covers, we didn?t want to put any pressure on our existing infrastructure by increasing the number – we simply wanted to make the operation and the customer experience slicker. We know that if we get the engine room right, this will pave the way for further expansion. Our relationship with CDG is not short term, quite the opposite, this is about the long term evolution of our business and I very much look forward to the next phase in our partnership.

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