Former professional football player Jonny Smith is adding to his fleet of local health cafes by opening his fourth venue by Aberdeen’s beachfront next week.
Launching his brand The Key in July 2020, which offers calorie-controlled macro meals in a bid to change people’s mindset that healthy food options are tasteless, Jonny has since opened two additional cafes in Westhill and Inverurie, tackling the Aberdeenshire market.
Now, he has announced his plans to expand further and launch a fourth cafe next Wednesday (September 8) at Transition Extreme (TX) on Links Road, an extreme sports centre and social enterprise.
Jonny, who has played professionally for Aberdeen FC and Wigan Athletic FC, says that being part of a fitness facility was always one of his main targets when The Key was introduced to the north-east food and drink scene.
When the offer arose to take over the space at TX, he says it was “too good an opportunity to turn down.”
A perfect match
TX had announced they were looking for a local business or caterer to snap up their cafe space rent-free in spring this year in a bid to support post-lockdown recovery.
Jonny said: “It was actually our customers that told us about the possible vacancy.
“A few of them told me that they were looking for someone to take over the cafe and that they were keen on something a bit different. When we read more into it, it sounded perfect for The Key.
Being a part of fitness facility was one of our targets when launching The Key, but being a part of a fitness facility that does so much for the community as well is a perfect match.”
“The team at TX are so passionate to please their current members and enthusiastic to attract more customers. We had positive discussions from the first introduction.
“It is so refreshing when two parties have the same interest in offering a healthier alternative to fuel such physically demanding activities. It was too good an opportunity for us to turn down.
“Being a part of fitness facility was one of our targets when launching The Key, but being part of a fitness facility that does so much for the community as well is a perfect match.”
The cafe has floor-to-ceiling windows with a view to the seafront, gallery areas to observe the climbing wall and skatepark, and a fully-equipped kitchen.
It can seat 40 people comfortably, within social distancing guidelines, and also includes an additional area that can be used for bigger events such as children’s parties and external classes, as well as team building and corporate events.
Healthy grub with a view
Jonny will be serving up the same variety of nutritious meals, snacks and drinks available at his other venues. These include salad bowls, wraps, seafood, sandwiches, pancakes, protein shakes and smoothies.
However, with TX staying open later into the evening, he looks forward to experimenting with new menu items to tie in with this.
The cafe will be open from noon to 8pm Wednesdays to Fridays, and 9.30am to 5.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
“With this facility opening later into the evening, we are really keen to try new things on our future menus and, hopefully, this will be a place where people can come to eat amazing food with great views in a relaxed atmosphere,” said Jonny.
Bringing the cafe to life has taken around 10 to 12 weeks and both parties, Jonny and the team at TX, have been working behind the scenes to make sure they are happy with what they can bring.
Jonny continued: “The work is almost finished now and we cannot wait for people to come and see us.
“There will be items from our current menus in our other facilities available, which have been popular since our launch.
“We are open to trying new things and are keen to offer what we think will best suit the TX customers and hopefully the new customers that we attract.”
First dog-friendly facility
While Jonny and his team have unveiled three health cafes to date, they are excited about this being their first dog-friendly facility.
He said: “All of us are looking forward to so many things with this new challenge as there is so much potential and space to offer. Firstly, we want to ensure we please the landlords and existing customers of TX and I am certain there are big things to come as we look to work together and organise events.
“It is such an impressive building in a prime location with stunning views. We are also looking forward to welcoming dogs into this cafe as this will be our first dog-friendly facility.
“With us being on the beach and so many dog walkers and other people exercising, we are hoping that having healthier options using local suppliers will tempt them in to see us.”