Home   News   Article

BID Q&A: Cafe One's investment in young talent sows success in Inverness

By Features Reporter

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

Person Behind the Business presented by Inverness BID.

Norman MacDonald, owner of Cafe One, Castle Street, Inverness. Picture: Callum Mackay
Norman MacDonald, owner of Cafe One, Castle Street, Inverness. Picture: Callum Mackay

Employing local young people is good for business says Norman MacDonald owner of Cafe One, Inverness

Q How would you describe your business?

A We’re a restaurant called Cafe One, and we’re called Cafe One because when I bought it in 1998 I couldn’t afford to change the name! As time evolved, it allowed us to be more of a cafe/wine bar so we have that cocktail bar element. Ironically we’ve grown into the name! Fresh local food is our mantra and we’re also very much focussed on employing local people. We’ve an 18-year-old in the third year of an apprenticeship in the kitchen, a 17-year-old in the second year and a 16-year-old in the first year; we're trying to produce a chef a year and support our own industry. We’ve always had a youth policy and that’s benefited our business and our development.We try to move with the times. We had a Filipino chef work with us for three years so we married good, fresh Scottish monkfish and mussels with a Filipino rendang curry – that epitomises what we do. The style of dishes and flexibility that we have is really a benefit to the business.

Q What led you into the business?

A I got a job when I was 16 in the Glenmoriston Hotel working for the Pieraccini family. I went from being in the kitchen to becoming a waiter and by the time I was 21, I was the hotel manager. That apprenticeship left me in such good stead. The Pieraccinis' business was always quality based. They never ever cut corners and they never ever compromised. Then in 1998 I got the opportunity to buy Cafe One and the rest is history – we’re in our 25th year! I don’t feel a day older and I put that down to surrounding myself with young people.

Q What is your greatest achievement?

A I’m very fortunate, I’ve got a loving wife, Karen, and two fantastic children; my daughter Mia (21) and my son Ruairidh (17). Bringing them up and seeing them develop is huge and Karen and I have loved that. Achievements can be measured in all sorts of different ways. I’ve been very, very lucky – I’m Norman MacDonald MBE. I was presented that by the Queen – life doesn’t get much better! However, I would argue that the biggest achievement is watching people that work with us develop. We start employing people while they’re at school, university and then they develop their careers in whatever field. Just being part of that really important stage for young people is huge, it’s absolutely immeasurable.

Q Who do you admire in business?

A My admiration goes out to anyone who’s involved in business. There’s often an assumption made that they have money, so it’s easy. There’s no-one in business who isn’t getting up early every morning, working and concentrating their whole day. The pressures on people who run their own business doesn’t rest. They wake up at 4am and straightaway they’re planning their day because they have so much on. And that goes for anyone in business.

Q What’s your advice to budding entrepreneurs?

A Nothing comes without hard work. It’s much easier to work for someone else and have a guaranteed secure income. Working for yourself is not an easy option.

The responsibilities for employing other people never diminishes – you’re looking after people’s welfare, their safety and the more people you employ the bigger the responsibility, not less.

Q Can you tell us more about yourself?

A We’ve got four dogs, I enjoy cycling, I’ve got some really good friends I met through cycling and business. That’s the balance.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! You’ve got to have the balance.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More