A Kintore farm shop has revealed its latest innovations to combat coronavirus restrictions placed on hospitality during the current lockdown by launching its new drive-thru.
The new service at Marshall’s Farm Shop was launched recently as the firm continues to find ways to trade during these challenging times.
Julie Marshall, one of the three daughters of Kenny and Moira Marshall who own the premises, said the move was vital to keep the business going and build from the momentum they had generated before additional restrictions came in over the festive break.
As a result, the business has managed to bring four members of its cafe team back from furlough, with three others already working full-time in the farm shop.
She said: “Because of the restrictions which were introduced on Boxing Day last year we had to close the cafe in our bothy. It was hard knowing how long we had to close it for, so we waited a couple of weeks and furloughed the cafe staff again for a while, but it has gone on quite a while now so we figured we’d give the drive-thru a go and see what the reaction was like.
“We wanted to get some of the staff back to work and keep the business going. We have had customers coming in for their shopping asking for takeaway food and it is quite nice being able to pick up something hot when visiting the farm shop. It is also something different for people to do in this area as there’s not many places you can get hot food or drinks from. We just launched it recently and it will be open from Thursday to Sunday from now on. It is just really keeping everything fresh.
“Our cook and our three waitresses in the bothy are all back working and we may have them half working and then half on furlough, depending on how busy the days are and if we need to increase the days the drive-thru is operational.”
Smooth running system
Open from 9am to 2.30pm every Thursday to Sunday, Julie is adamant the system they have in place works well and is easy for both the customers and staff to safely use.
Customers pull off of the A96 near Kintore at Boghead Farm where Marshall’s is based and should follow the orange traffic cones they have in place.
She added: “It has been popular enough since launching even without many people knowing we were doing it. The system we have in place at the bothy isn’t designed to be used for a drive-thru so we’ve just been trying to figure out the best way to do things. We serve at the front of the bothy and we’re hoping this weekend will be busier. We’re trying to offer as wide spread a menu as we can.
“The customers drive through the gates in their cars and park up outside the bothy. I am usually there to take the orders and then we take payment. We can take cash or card, but card is preferred just now. They then drive around a wee roundabout, head back out the gate and park their car in our big car park and sit and wait. We then take the orders out to them.
“Even people who are out walking their dogs can come up and order as there are screens in place if they don’t want to use the drive-thru.”
Serving up some of their staple home-cooked meals, the team at the drive-thru have their work cut out for them with a good-sized menu available for customers to order from.
“We’ve got things like bacon and sausage rolls which have been popular in the morning, home-made soup and hot pies, sandwiches, toasties, baked potatoes with a range of fillings, burgers on the barbecue and chips.
“There’s also main meals like macaroni and cheese with chips, chicken fillets, home-made chilli, chicken or ham salad, sausage, beans and chips and we have a special on of a barbecue hot dog. We’ll add something new for people to try every weekend.
“I guess we’ve had to be innovative throughout this whole pandemic. Last March when we had to close the cafe our farm shop was really busy and we only had one person on furlough. It was so busy with the fruit and veg boxes, but this time it has been a little quieter over the last few weeks with it being January, so we had to think of something else to keep the place going. We’re expanding just now as well so we don’t want to lose the custom we’ve managed to build up.”