Monday, 26 September 2011

Well, the much-looked-forward-to Jessie’s night out was a BIG success then! A huge thanks to Robertson’s restaurant for accommodating us all, creating a special set menu and offering free, generous sharing platters to kick the meal off; the food was delicious, the service perfect and the staff completely lovely (and amazingly tolerant of the slightly squiffy, high-spirited crowd who descended on them...). We shall be back (hopefully, that’s GOOD news...?!).
One of the best bits of the night actually happened before we headed into the Ferry for our meal; when we all met up in the ‘Big Room’ at Jessie’s. For once we were ALL guests, not staff! Sitting there with the view of Tayport and Fife from the bay window all late summer evening-y, cracking bottles of pink fizz (ice buckets full of lager and scrumpy for the lads!) and swapping stories of starting up our very own cafe... life felt pretty good at that moment (okay, so the pink fizz helped too!). And for the ‘wee ones’, with all the excitement of Uni and new towns, new friendships, new jobs in cafes and bars ahead... there was definitely a bit of a buzz in the big room that evening; here’s hoping all the future Jessie’s nights will be as special.
It also shows how fantastic a setting our rooms are in the evenings. Very special, atmospheric and with a different ambience from the hustle and bustle of daytime service. It’s definitely a thought for the future...
Going back to the night out, thanks to Mary-Jane for organising and booking the meal, counting names etc etc; the job everyone always ducks if they can! Where we going at Christmas then, MJ???!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Hello, hello?? Oh, dear Lord, are we back on air?? At last! Sorry for the huuuuuuuge break in transmission - ironically, there's been soooooo much to say, but simply no time (or energy left over at the end of each whirlwind day) to say it. Life at Jessie's is leaving us dizzy! (In a good way!).
In case you don't believe us, as well as serving an awful lot of customers (thanks everyone, it's our total priviledge!) we've been...
... FEELING that first tang of Autumn in the air. I know, I know, in August - un-be-lievable! But, leaving the unseasonably chilly grey days aside, on the upside, it means Nick and Mary Jane are dreaming of exciting Autumn flavours. Hooray!! There are rumours of garlic mushrooms on toasted brioches... spicy pumpkin soup... fluffy pear and almond scones... and a whole lot more, coming to a plate near YOU...!
... BONDING! Blethers in the kitchen, capers at the counter - guess what? The Jessie's Kitchen team genuinely like working together, which we like to think translates into a happy atmosphere and good customer service. After all, it's a lot easier to be pleasant to people if you're in a happy place yourself...
... which brings us to PLANNING a big Jessie's night out (For big Jessies only, obviously!!). Which is bittersweet, because it'll be fun to get together outside work and relax; but a bit sad too because the reason (excuse??) for it is to say goodbye to our 'wee ones' and wave them off to their various universities (or a full time job in Laura's case!). Madi, Matthew and Louise will be sadly missed; they were there at the very start of Jessie's and together we've learned about tabs, tray-carrying and tricky customers. We know how lucky we've been to launch Jessie's with such a great team - they've worked hard, learned loads, never, ever, ever, moaned and earned us the best customer feedback ever. We're so glad we're keeping our Claire for a bit longer while she's at college. We're having a big team photo on the day of the night out and will always, always remember the part they've played in starting up Jessie's. Now, where are we going on our night out??! (Seriously, if anyone has space on the evening of Thursday 8th September for up to 25 slightly emotional revellers who appreciate nice food and coffee, please let us know!)
... BRANCHING OUT into birthday parties! What we see as one of the fun bits of owning a cafe and the sort of thing we've always wanted to get into. With Cake Crusader Mary Jane on board to create amazing birthday cakes at the drop of a (party) hat, we knew we could come up with something special, and, judging by the happy response we got last Sunday, it seems to have worked for one special little girl who was turning three, anyway... any other birthday boys and girls looking for a venue that's different, with good food, lovely staff and toys for the littler party-people - please get in touch!!

Monday, 11 July 2011


Nick 'n' Marlyn
Our second week has just flown in, with every day more packed than the last – we’re so, so thrilled to be this busy and to already have so many regulars!  Our second Saturday was our busiest day yet, with people waiting in the hall for tables and more customers arriving by the minute. Slightly scary, but thanks to the whole team for seeing it through!  It was pretty full on, but Nick, Marlyn and Mary-Jane rattled those pots and pans good-style in the kitchen and rustled up plate after plate of fresh, colourful, inventive food (the home-grown-by Turriff’s Roasted Beetroot Hummus served with warm pitta bread not only tasted amazing, but also matched the Jessie’s Kitchen vibe - being hot pink and all that! Nick doesn’t just throw the menu together, you know!!

Barista training
Our ‘wee ones’, Rowan, Heather and Maya were heroes, washing up around five thousand pots, clearing tables and working SO hard all day in the hot kitchen. And of course, our young front of house team, Matthew, Madi, Louise and Claire rose to the occasion too. All new to this, all suddenly working ten or eleven hours some days (with two jobs on the go in Louise’s case) and still managing to smile, charm customers, whip up ‘proper’ coffees and for the most part, offer the sort of service you could only wish some posh restaurants would offer. I promise that’s not just me being biased; we’ve had a LOT of compliments on the youngsters and we’re very proud of them all. While trying to stay just the right side of schmaltzy and clichéd, from now on, if I hear anyone grumble about the ‘youth of today’ I’ll be ready for them! 

I’ve just realised I haven’t said nearly enough about our magic Mary-Jane. As well as running her own bakery business, Kitschnbake, MJ has until now been working for the Police - as well as joining the Jessie’s team AND looking after three wee ones. Superwumman doesn’t even begin to cover it, it in my book! We call her our ‘Cake Crusader’ because if there’s a run on cakes any afternoon (which is happening more and more – they’re flying off the shelves and selling like, er, hot cakes!!) we text MJ and she stays up all night whisking up dreamy cheesecakes, fairy-tale cupcakes and those cakes I call the stunners, like her truly spectacular Red Velvet Cake, Lemon Meringue cake and Hummingbird Cake. It might be work, but you can tell she also does it from love - you just have to mention a tea bread might be nice and she’s off, creating a Ginger Cake with Sticky Lime Icing! She’s currently perfecting her own recipe for Breakfast Muffins to hopefully go on our new Sunday Brunch menu (coming soon!) and we can’t wait to try them. All that, and she’s slotted in to the kitchen team just perfectly. We’re lucky to have her around, along with help from her lovely husband Jack, who’s been known to do an emergency cake run before starting a hard day’s work!    
Setting out the cakes under the cake domes is one of my favourite jobs of the day – they already have the wow factor but showing them off the way they deserve is almost as satisfying as hearing people gasp hungrily when the cake display is the first thing they see as they walk in...
Talking about the team reminds me of something which I think shows that, despite the looooooooong hours everyone’s working (poor Nick hasn’t had a day off in weeks because we simply can’t do without him at the moment), the sore feet and sheer hard slog, we must be doing something right at Jessie’s, because we all turn up there on our days off! Marlyn’s come in for lunch on her own and with friends and also sat to have a coffee and friends long after she’s finished for the day; MJ’s brought friends and her beautiful family in for breakfast twice; my gang and I love our Sunday breakfasts at Jessie’s (Hope had the Fruhstuck – German breakfast – today and demolished it, although she did quibble the butter being Scottish; honestly, everyone’s a critic!!). If even we don’t seem to get fed up of the cafe, surely that’s got to mean it’s a good place to be...???

Monday, 4 July 2011


... And there’s a bit of a buzz about Jessie’s!! Not to mention a bit of a buzz AT Jessie’s! How to describe the past week?? I’m not usually stuck for words but it’s tricky to find the right ones for this. It’s been a hectic, tough, exhilarating, adrenaline-filled, exhausting, sweaty, emotional, heart-warming, teary, achey, happy, high, low, amazing, funny old week. Oh, yes.
We have had mad, manic, magic, non-stop days; the Jessie’s team have been learning the ropes when it comes to running a cafe! We have... spilt coke (on a friend of a friend – so, so sorry, lovely Letham ladies!!); spilt coffee – but everyone survived, thank the Lord; learned to be baristas (We can all whip up a flat white, Americano or latte in our sleep, and, as for the perfect cappuccino – we’re getting there! Matthew can even draw lovehearts and flowers in the top of a latte – go Matthew!!); cleaned endlessly (who knew there was sooooooo much in the world to sponge/wipe/scrub or mop?!)... and had the most amazingly positive reactions from almost everyone who’s visited us. I don’t think we ever dared to hope for the response we’ve had over the decor, the rooms, Nick’s astoundingly good food, Mary-Jane’s incredible array of tempting home baking (including Gluten-free options)... we kind of thought we might have something good to offer but we truly didn’t realise just how much people would like it! It all just seems to have come together – and now it’s Jessie’s Kitchen!! Who’d have thought?!

Saturday, 2 July 2011


Sorry for the break in transmission, but it’s been quite some week since we opened the doors of Jessie’s Kitchen on Monday. Opening in itself was a bit of a feat, considering that at midnight on Sunday we were still hanging paintings, peeling backing from wall stickers, arranging chairs and much, much more! Then we opened at 8.30 am on Monday! We’ve worked out we painted 47 chairs (four coats each!!), 14 tables, a changing unit, a mirror, an armchair, seven big blackboards, six little blackboard signs, and fourteen clothes pegs (they’re ‘tab grabbers’, okay? Yes, I’d never heard of that either....). Our dachshunds, George and Belle, were scared to stand still for too long in case they found themselves unceremoniously sanded, primed, undercoated then given two coats of eggshell in a vibrant shade of pink.

The Jessie’s Kitchen team came into their own during those long, never-ending, one-step-forwards-two-steps-back days; Nick and Maz, organising everything, making runs to suppliers and DIY stores, compiling list after list after list, deciding exactly how many tea pots and ramekins a caff needs (more than you think – and it’ll still never be enough, we’ve discovered!), plus a thousand more jobs... but mainly painting. And painting. And painting some more. And going back for a wee bit more painting.  The famous day Marlyn cracked up after too much painting resulted in our ‘chair of many colours’ – the lucky chair, with every rung, leg, seat and back painted a different shade of pink. It’s my favourite chair - because there’s a story involved, because Maz is involved and because it sums up the effort, slog, hard times, late nights and ultimately, the fun that’s gone into Jessie’s Kitchen. That chair will always be a bit special (I’d say just like Marlyn herself, except then this would be my last-ever blog).
Nick and Maz’s contribution is legendary and we still feel as lucky to have them on board as we ever did, but can we just give our youngsters a mention too; Maddi, Claire, Matthew and Louise; not to forget Rowan, Heather and our very own Maya. They’ve all been amazing; hard-working, polite, funny and clever – they’ve made us proud from day one as we’ve learned the ropes together and we couldn’t have asked for a better team.
Anyway, by ten to twelve on Sunday night the chairs were dry (just!), the tables were arranged, the art was hung, the coffee machine plugged in, the IKEA lampshades pieced together... and we were set to open at 8.30 on Monday. No – wait; that couldn’t be right – could it??! After months of plotting, planning and preparation, we couldn’t be about to open the doors and start our dream for real...??!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


Today we got our very first booking for Jessie’s – thanks Fiona and the lovely Letham Ladies, your table for eight will be waiting on Thursday! I’m such a sap, I felt a bit tearful – let’s hope I’m not like that every time we get a booking or the soup will be very salty...! Fi, we can’t wait to see you and the girls!
Soooooo much has been happening in the last week or so, life has been hectic but wonderful! Met some very talented and totally lovely crafty ladies at a craft fair in the Castle Green Halls in Broughty Ferry – some of them are coming in to discuss us featuring their beautiful work in our small-but-soon –to- be-packed-with-gorgeous-things gift shop. I knew I would love this part of the Jessie’s Kitchen experience (well, it does involve shopping...) but as well as loving looking through so many gorgeous   gifts  and calling it  work! How can that be?! ), we keep meeting the nicest people! Thanks to our friend Sharon (alias Farmer McLeod) who’s much too modest to say so herself, but who makes the most  beautiful bags, cards, gift boxes and much more. Wait till you see them, they’re perfect present material (if you can resist buying them for yourself!).
We’re also on the lookout for local artists who’d like to exhibit their work with us (we have a lot of walls with a lot of character, just crying out for ART!) and hopefully sell it. If anyone knows someone (professional or amateur) who has paintings or photographs which deserve some wall space, please let us know. The Degree Show has shown up some awesome young talent who we hope to have on board soon, plus we can’t believe we’re lucky enough to have some Fiona Haldane originals ready to display in time for opening. Fiona’s a talented and established Scottish artist and we’re so pleased and grateful to be able to showcase her work.

Monday, 20 June 2011


Sorry there hasn’t been much Blog activity recently...  we’ve been busy, busy, busy making Jessie’s Kitchen look fabulous! It’s less than a week until we open and life is very hectic, especially as we both have day jobs - and three poor, neglected children (so they keep telling us) who’ve been made to pick up paintbrushes or put up with endless visits to DIY stores... But it’s FUN too – and where our hearts now belong! The cafe is turning out exactly how we saw it in our dreams    worth all those late nights! Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves because we can’t believe that after all these years of talking about opening our very own cafe, we are now less than a week away! We totally appreciate how lucky we are to be doing what we’ve always, always dreamed of doing. And now we’re seeing it all come together, one painty chair at a time!
Because we have been painting. And painting. And painting some more! Mornings... evenings... weekends... changing tables... mirrors... tables... and chairs, of course. So many chairs! 48 , to be precise! And everything needs to be primed, then undercoated, before even starting on the  two coats of actual paint! Big (no, HUGE actually!) thanks to everyone who’s picked up a brush; Maz, Nick, Maya T (13 and not too fond of painting but has done her bit. For money, but still!), the Turriff’s florists, Nadia, Claire and Janine,  Adrian, our trainee garden-landscaper. Everyone has been amazing – thanks team!
Seeing the white, undercoated  chairs lined up, row upon row, like a Chinese pottery army was a bit daunting, but  we got there! Now they’re glorious shades of pink and make me happy when I look at them ( OK, I never claimed not to be a saddo, did I??) When you visit, look out for our special ‘chair of many colours’ –  a real designer item, created when all that painting finally drove some poor soul MAD and they cracked... we reckon it’s a lucky chair but we’re not planning to charge extra for sitting in it –                                                                            how’s that for good value?!

Thursday, 9 June 2011


We owe friends and colleagues big thanks for their help and advice on where to snap up second-hand furniture – and for keeping an eye out for bargains for us! City centre charity shops have been amazing, and Curr & Dewar Auction House has turned into the most fun you can have online on a Monday night (unless anyone can suggest anything ‘funner’ as Hope would say...??! I’m sure some of you can!!). Placing bids then phoning up on a Tuesday afternoon to see if we’ve been successful was exciting (go on, try it!) – and a solid oak table and four chairs for £20 can’t be bad, can it?! 
Tip we’ve learned: lot of stuff goes cheap, but if you really, really want an item be brave – definitely go in higher than Ross’s first attempts of a ‘sensible and reasonable amount within the suggested range’! That won’t get you that daisy tea set, as it turns out... Somewhere between that and my yelp of ‘We NEED that tea-for-two set, bid up, BID UP!!’ is probably a good idea... oh, and when you start wondering if you really actually need your middle child after all, it’s time to STEP AWAY FROM THE BIDDING...


Big thanks to my work buddy Eileen for introducing us to our new favourite place; Tayside Recycling. Situated just off Lochee Road - perhaps you all knew it was there, but I had no idea!
Part treasure trove, part massive skip, but if you like to rake and don’t mind ‘fixer-uppers’ and a bit of hard work, it’s worth a look!
It’s also good for a laugh and a wee bit fascinating, with stuff like hundreds of maps for £1 each (frame them – or paper a wall, cool!), a funny little shop where you can buy a china tea set for a fiver or fill a bin bag with ‘vintage’ (dahling!) clothes and fabrics for £6.
If you do visit, make sure you check out ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ upstairs (outside, up the wobbly fire escape and into a huge, crumbling warehouse stuffed with every sort of object in existence!). Things we found:
*A pristine dentist’s chair. Creepy! But I... er, want it?!
*Not one, but two doctors’ examination tables plus a pile of white doctors’ coats. Fun! (but not for the caff. That would be WRONG!! Right??).
*One of those amazing fitness machines from the 60s or 70s where you stand on a platform and wrap a vibrating belt around you. Useful!
Maya loves helping with the 'upcycling'!!
Unless you really don’t like old and not necessarily clean things, I’d recommend a visit. Go with a pal and you’ll have a laugh, if nothing else, but beware, you may become addicted!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

TAKE A SEAT (Well, not literally...boom, boom! Don’t worry, we promise jokes won’t be on the menu at Jessie’s)
Choosing chairs and tables sounded like the easy part – but nuh-uh. After a lot of searching online and in furniture shops and catalogues, we’ve finally decided to do a bit of ‘upcycling’. Partly because we have a budget to stick to; because we believe in doing our bit for the environment; because we just couldn’t find exactly what we were looking for; and as it turns out, because we genuinely love the beautiful old, solid wood furniture we’ve bought, blagged and bargained for all over Tayside. It needs TLC but it’s going to be gorgeous! Eventually! After a lot of hard work! For now, Ross’s future office (his Gran’s old spare room) is piled to the ceiling with all shapes and sizes of mis-matched chairs and tables, all ready to be sanded... primed... undercoated... and glossed. Blimey! When are we going to get all that done, then?!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Hole # 3

Holes are obviously a bit like buses... you go ages without seeing a single one then a ‘hole’ load (sorry!) come along at once... our lovely joiner, Mark, turned up thinking he’d nothing better to do than fit the stainless steel on the walls in Gran’s old kitchen... only to discover the floor has been riddled with woodworm at some stage and a huge chunk needs to be replaced. Unless we can somehow persuade Nick and Maz to just be very careful only to use half the floor and not fall in when they’re rustling up the soup... ok, maybe not. So this week has been all about the floor instead of our lovely shiny new kitchen but we can’t complain too much, since it’s our first real set-back; that’s got to be pretty lucky in such an old house?
Talking of which, it’s been strangely fascinating (honest!!) for Ross, watching Stewart our electrician pull wires from inside walls and somehow magically manage to invisibly thread them around the place. Somehow, he can make them reappear somewhere completely different, miles away, leaving only the tiniest, neatest hole in the wall (sorry to keep mentioning holes). Britain’s Got Talent has a place for you, Stewart, or if Derren Brown ever needs an assistant...!   

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Nooks And Crannies

'Secret' stairs
Gran’s house, as I say, is amazing… I love the original pantry with its beautiful wooden doors, soon to be home to Jessie’s Kitchen plates, utensils and delicious(!) cooking ingredients; but my favourite, favourite thing is the ‘secret’ room!
Many moons ago, when Broomhall was one big house, this hidden-away room was where the housekeeper slept and was accessed by a trapdoor in the ceiling. Bearing in mind she was probably an older lady (okay, I’m basing this on Upstairs Downstairs!), going up the rickety ladder to bed must have been fun...! Now there’s a (still rickety!) ‘secret’ staircase going up to the room, which is going to be our new staffroom. Once we manage to get the wardrobes and other furniture stashed up there down the secret, rickety staircase (any volunteers?!).

As if a secret room isn’t exciting enough, Gran’s cellar has yielded so much interesting stuff… these rent books are in immaculate condition and contain so may weel-kent Dundee place names, as well as beautiful stamps featuring King George VI of The King’s Speech/Colin Firth fame! You might have seen them featured in the Evening Tele (thanks to our good friend Graeme), the City Archivists are keen to get their hands on them and we plan to see if the McManus Galleries would be interested.

Thursday, 26 May 2011


Hole # 1!
Poor John, our builder, ‘bit’ off more than he was expecting when he tried to drill through a wall in the new disabled-access toilet to fit an extractor… several industrial-strength drill bits (apparently you pay for them by the mm – yikes!) later, you can see how thick the walls are – Ross can fit his arm through the hole!
Hole # 2!                                
How on earth did Great Gran manage not to disappear under the floor every time she took a bath?? Turns out only three of the legs of the bath in Gran’s original bathroom (now Jessie’s Kitchen’s Disabled Access and Baby Change bathroom) were actually supported by floorboards... the fourth one was dangling in space above a very large hole over the cellar...
We did consider offering a free bath with every coffee for a while, but then we decided you’d probably prefer a biscuit (please let us know, though – customer feedback is very important to us!!).

Sunday, 22 May 2011


Bit parquet…
It has to be said that, for two inexperienced DIY-ers with three children rampaging around in the background, lifting the old parquet piece by tiny piece was NOT the easiest morning’s work (although, still more fun than Ross’s next job; hauling out/hammering in the zillion miniscule nails left behind, which would otherwise have wrecked the floor sander). If anyone’s horrified that we ripped it up, so are we, but it was very old (from before even Gran and Grandad’s time), very worn, and most importantly, only ran around the very edge of the living room floor – leaving the middle to be filled in with carpet! There was no saving it, but the original floorboards underneath are beautiful. Or we hoped they would be, after the next job… sanding!

Ross sanded the floors himself – took a week of evenings after hard days at work, with Turriff’s busy with the start of the bedding plant season. As anyone who’s ever done it will know, it was a hot, dusty, booooooring job! Made better by his amusing ‘Outbreak’ outfit – which amused Stewart, our sparky and cousin-in-law and I hugely... better safe than sorry, Ross!! Made worse because the hired sander didn’t work properly the first time we got it and had to go back to the shop. Grrrr! But so worth it when we saw the floorboards revealed – and now they’ve been stained, what a difference; it’s really opened up the rooms, shows off the fireplaces and suddenly, it’s started to look a wee bit like a cafe...!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


Ross’s Gran’s house is amazing. We’re so lucky to have such a beautiful old building, full of wonderful original features to start our café in, but every picture, photo or ornament we have moved, bit of wallpaper we’ve stripped or carpet we’ve lifted has reminded us of Gran and Grandad and that this was once their home.
At times it’s been especially emotional – like having to tear out the original Jessie’s kitchen, where Gran always made friends and family so very welcome (and would rustle up home-made scones to go with your cup of tea faster than I personally could open a packet of Hob Nobs!) So yes, it’s been emotional, but we’ve reminded ourselves that Ross’s Gran was a practical lady who wasn’t at all precious about her house. It was family first, then the business, that mattered to Gran and we think she would have supported the café all the way.
Find us HERE

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


I’ve always been a sucker for flicking through ‘housey’ magazines (preferably with a glass of Pinot in hand and a large dream bubble above my head picturing exactly how I’d have that big house up the road which looks like something out of Gone With The Wind and now belongs to Lorraine Kelly... but anyway...) and watching home makeover shows (Colin and Justin are my not-so-guilty pleasure – if that doesn’t sound too wrong?!). So, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in choosing wallpaper, lighting, flooring and the works for Jessie’s Kitchen. The fun stuff! Couldn’t wait,  until it dawned on me… you decorate your house, and it’s going to be mainly friends and family who see it and say how lovely it is…or pretend not to notice if the place is a a tip! But you decorate a café and you run the risk of hundreds of customers (we hope!!) checking out your choice of wallpaper then turning away with raised eyebrows to ask each other ‘What was she thinking??’!   

Big ideas.

It’s been fun so far, though we hope you’ll like it (and will pretend not to notice if not!).

Which wallpaper.....?