WITH consumers now looking to eat as much local produce as possible, it is no wonder that restaurants and coffee shops are looking to incorporate traceable food on their menus, and that is the case for John Gold, co-owner of The Scrib Tree coffee shop, found in the heart of Douglas, Lanarkshire.

A joint venture between John and Douglas and Angus Estates, The Scrib Tree has been open for six years, and its main attraction is that it has local food on its menu, as well as a shop full of fresh fruit, vegetables, and local foods and fayre.

Part of the 33,000 acre Douglas and Angus estate, the land the coffee shop sits on used to be a lorry depot, before it was acquired by the estate, which then erected the building, which is styled to look like a modern barn conversion.

Living in a place such as Lanarkshire, John was always well-aware of the local producers around him, and with that ethos, he decided to use as much locally-produced fayre in his coffee shop as possible.

Although he didn’t previously work in the hospitality business, John was well accustomed to working with the general public.

“My grandparents actually used to own a grocer and newsagent across the road from where the coffee shop is now, and I worked there with my aunt when she took it over and has it as a newsagent and fruit shop, and I would say that definitely set the groundworks for me for working with people,” John explained.

John’s background is largely in community development, which focuses on linking up communities with landowners and estates, and offering different services for them. This also involved linking up community aspirations for unused areas within certain estates.

Presently, The Scrib Tree employs nine members of staff, including John, most of whom come from local areas, which was another important factor for the business.

Serving local food is something that John takes great pride in, and something that customers really buy into. He said: “I think buying local is appealing because you actually know where what you are eating has come from, and some of our customers even pass our producers on the way here, and I love the idea of that.

“We get venison, beef, and lamb from the Carmichael Estate, Biggar; Ramsays bacon and pork, from Carluke; Lorne sausage from W Brown butcher, Douglas; milk from Mosgiel Milk, Mauchline; free-range eggs, from Corrie Mains, Mauchline; and Highland Fine Cheeses, Tain; Brewdog beer, Glasgow; Arran Blonde beer; Orkney Dark Island beer; and Thistly Cross Cider, The Black Isle.

“On our menu, we incorporate all of those foods and drinks, and I feel that sourcing locally really adds value to products, because they are not having to travel thousands of miles before they get here.”

While the coffee shop is the main attraction – who doesn’t love a bite to eat and a coffee, John also has a small larder within the building’s entrance, and that also stocks more local produce, including: Biggar gin; Little Doone balsamic dressings, from Clackmannanshire; Smoky Brae products, from Strathaven; Reids of Caithness oat biscuits; Sarah Gray’s preserves, from Angus; Galloway Lodge pickles and chutneys, from Galloway; Coupar Angus strawberries and raspberries; Mull cheddar; chocolate products from the Chocolate Tree, Haddington; products from the Great Glen charcuterie, in Roy Bridge, Inverness-shire; and Inverlochy smoked salmon.

“Although some of our products are not on our doorstep, we try to stick to Scottish brands, and most of them source their ingredients locally to them, and so that maintains our locally produced ethos,” John commented.

With daytime eating being the most popular choice of custom – the coffee shop seats 30 inside and nine outside at full capacity, John also offers the occasional supper menu, on Friday evenings, and that has proven to be a success.

John explained: “We got a license here and that has been great for the supper menu, as people like to come along at the end of the week and enjoy a nice meal.

“Obviously we change the menu slightly for this, and I think that some of the regular customers like coming and getting something a wee bit different.

“We also held a few barbecues during the warmer weather, and that was also very popular.”

As well as diversifying into the supper menu, The Scrib Tree can also now be booked out as a venue for numerous occasions, including birthdays and anniversaries, and this, too, has proved to be popular with local clientele.

In order to promote the business, John uses social media, mainly Facebook and Instagram, and credits both sites for increasing custom and interest.

He said: “We try to be active on social media quite a lot, as it really is a fantastic way of promoting your business, and we also use it to advertise the fact that we use local produce – it gives them a wee bit of advertising as well, and it’s a great way of reaching a mixed age group.”

Taking in the comforting surroundings of The Scrib Tree, which seats XX people at one time, it’s easy to sit back and relax, and enjoy your food, even more so, knowing that it comes from local suppliers, of the highest quality.