Monday, 11 July 2011

JESSIE’S – WEEK TWO! (YES, REALLY!)


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 clich├ęd, 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

ONE WEEK ON...

... 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

JESSIE’S IS HERE!

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...??!