- Attractive and well-presented café with a prominent trading position on the busy A82 between Invergarry and Fort Augustus.
- Sale comprises; café with 48 covers, gift shop area within and separate enclosed trading area, suitable for a variety of purposes, presently used as a craft sales area.
- Strong trading pattern showing solid figures with scope to increase profitability should new owners’ desire.
- Easy-to-operate café with high quality customer and service areas extending to circa 90m2.
- Spacious and comfortable owner’s house attached providing a large lounge/dining room, two bedrooms, family bathroom and attractive private garden area.
- Grounds extending to about 1 acre with an external balcony seating area, very large car park to the front and private gardens to the rear.
The Thistle Stop Café and Gift Shop is an award winning business, set in a most prominent roadside location and in an area of exceptional natural beauty. The view offered from the covered veranda is stunning and the business is set back far enough from the road giving it a rural and natural feel. The café and house are located on the popular A82 on the outskirts of the village of Fort Augustus which generates a high level of passing trade throughout the year and is exceptionally busy in the main tourist season. The café and gift shop are located on the ground floor to the front of the property, with the kitchen and facilities to the rear. Entry to the owner’s accommodation is also at ground level and can be accessed from the rear of the property or via the café. The open plan café and gift area covers some 90m2. Enclosed with large picture windows and a lockable door is a further sales area. This shop, referred to as “in stitches”, provides wool and craft items and is approx 16.5m2. This area would certainly lend itself to a variety of purposes should new owners wish to change the current use, for example a jewellery workshop or artist’s studio and gallery.
The café is well supported by a generous and extremely well fitted out commercial kitchen, producing a range of freshly prepared and home-baked items. Menu items range from breakfast rolls, toasted sandwiches and homemade soup to a selection of several main meals. Service is limited to day time only with the café operating from 9.00am - 4.30pm and slight seasonal variances, closing from December - February. Open from March, the business closes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from April - September, and closes for three days in March, October and November. This lifestyle operation is run to suit the current owner’s preferences, new proprietors could adopt a different model to suit their own needs. Customers range from the loyal locals, repeat visitors year on year who frequent the business, the many tourists travelling on the route as well as those tempted by the excellent TripAdvisor ratings. The business has been recognised as a TripAdvisor ‘Hall of Fame’ winner in 2018. The ‘Hall of Fame’ was created to honour those businesses that have earned a Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years; The Thistle Stop have held theirs for six years. The business also received an award for the Norths “Most Welcoming Café of the Year” in the Scottish Cafe Awards 2018 through Creative Oceanic.
An attractive feature of this sale is the owner’s house which is adjoined and above the property. Entering from the attractive rear garden area, the property opens into a small hall with a flight of stairs to the bedrooms and entrance to the large dining and lounge area. These rooms loop round and join the café kitchen area which is shared between both. Upstairs are two bedrooms and a family bathroom as well as a large hallway currently set up as an office and storage area. The current owners have installed new double glazing, and there is ongoing investment in the home and business. The property sits within tree and garden grounds extending to around 0.5 acres, there is a shared drive way with the property next door leading round to the rear of the property and extensive parking space to the front.
REASON FOR SELLING
The vendors purchased the property in June 2008 and, having now owned and operated the business for ten years, it was their plan to sell after this period of time to explore new challenges. Having enjoyed their tenure here they are happy to bring this desirable business and home to the market and allow new owners to take the business to the next level.
Currently operating from March to November, the business trades, through choice, just under the VAT threshold. There is scope to trade at a higher level should new owners so desire, by opening on the currently closed trading days, offering an evening service, trading year-round etc. The current model does not have contracts with bus companies or tour operators and this is an area new owners may wish to explore. The present configuration of the café allows for the serving of up to 48 customers at tables and chairs with seating for 4 on soft furnishings. Externally bench tables and chairs are located on a covered veranda and patio doors open from the café out to this area. The business offers a wide range of home-made cakes, beverages and snacks.
The present owners trade the café from 9 am – 4 pm with slight seasonal variances, during the main season only and do so without the need to employ additional staff. There is undoubted scope to open longer hours providing evening meals as there is strong demand in the main season from the large number of accommodation providers in the region.
Fort Augustus is a historic and popular tourist destination enjoying a strong trading location in the Great Glen, on the arterial A82, famed for its popular lock system on the Caledonian Canal which feeds into Loch Ness. The Thistle Stop Café and Gift Shop is strategically positioned to take advantage of those visiting the area and moving along this popular route to Invergarry. The Caledonian Canal with its magnificent Locks sits central to the village, running parallel to the beautiful River Oich, close to its meeting with Loch Ness itself. During the peak season a great many holiday makers take boat trips along Loch Ness commencing their odyssey from the village. Such is the scenic beauty of the area and the world-renowned Loch Ness that it attracts huge numbers of tourists annually. In such an enviable setting, with good schools, shops, banking, social and leisure facilities, the sale of The Thistle Stop Café and Gift Shop represents a potentially excellent all-round lifestyle opportunity.
Invergarry attracts those travelling the great glen way including mountaineers taking advantage of the close proximity of numerous Munro’s and passing trade heading towards the west coast and the Isles plus those undertaking a more leisurely holiday absorbing the natural beauty of the region. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty with acres of tranquil woodland and majestic walks. The property is within easy reach of many notable mountain areas including Nevis Range, Glen Shiel, The Grey Corries are less than half an hour away and Ben Nevis, Creag Meagaidh, Glen Dessary, Quoich Munros and Kinloch Hourn, the gateway to Knoydart; all within 30 miles. Within the village of Invergarry is a pub, post office, petrol station with a small shop plus a community centre with seasonal cafe and heritage centre.
The café is a two storey structure of timber and block construction under a pitched tiled roof which was built in the 1970s, an extension was later added in 1996.
THE CAFÉ / GIFT SHOP
From a prominent roadside location on the A82, the business has a well-signed frontage with ease of access. A covered veranda area to the front of the café has external bench seating for 18 guests. The entrance opens directly into the café and is accessed via either three steps or a disabled ramp from the carpark. The open plan internal aspects of the café and shop extend to c90m2. A further enclosed trading area measuring 16.5 m2 is located to the left. This area is lockable and has large picture windows facing out to the café and gift shop. The main customer area is set to free-standing tables and chairs plus one sofa and two tub chairs. In total the cafe area, inside and out comfortably seats around 48 covers; there is scope to expand seating capacity should new owners wish to do so. There is a servery counter set to one end of the cafe which is situated in front of the kitchen. Toilet facilities, including a disabled facility, plus storage areas are set to the rear. There is back door out to the garden and private parking area. The generous commercial kitchen is very well appointed, a full inventory will be provided to seriously interested parties.
An attractive feature of the sale is the attached 2-bedroom owner’s house, offering a charming and comfortable living space. Access is gained from both a private entrance to the rear of the property as well as from the commercial kitchen. The kitchen opens into an attractive lounge with large feature window to the front taking advantage of the stunning views, an archway leads to the dining area and out to the small hallway. A staircase leads to the, upper hall/office area and into two bedrooms and the family bathroom. There is a large cupboard/walk in wardrobe located at the top of the stairs.
The grounds are a substantial aspect of this property. The rear private garden is landscaped and attractive, and includes storage space as well as private parking. To the front is a huge car park with more than ample parking. Extending to around 0.5 acre, the grounds offer some development potential but undoubtedly provide sound recreational space.
Mains electricity and private water supply drainage to septic tank. LPG is used for the 6 burner stove. The house and café benefit from oil-fired central heating and the property is mostly double glazed. The business is fully fire compliant and meets all environmental health requirements. Both the house and café have Wi-Fi.