Scott Smith is expanding his operations in Edinburgh and has taken on the Secret Herb Garden Café.
Smith, who operates Fhior restaurant with wife Laura and the seasonal café operations at the city's Jupiter Artland sculpture park and gallery, has taken on the catering and events at Secret Herb Garden, previously operated by Hamish and Liberty Martin.
The Martins will still oversee the plant nursery side of the business, but have decided to focus on their gin distillery.
Fhior head of operations Sofie Burley will oversee the Secret Herb Garden Café and a head chef will be appointed when it is able to reopen. All staff have been taken on by Smith but are currently furloughed.
Smith is also in the process of creating a kitchen garden at the site to supply Fhior, which he said was the "biggest selling point", and to explore heritage vegetable varieties.
Speaking to The Caterer, he said: "It was a natural progression for Fhior. I've always wanted to have a space where we could grow our own produce… It's starting to develop very fast with the nice weather we've had. I'm just absolutely heartbroken that I don't have a restaurant to put it into."
Smith signed the contract to take over the café lease in early February and had planned to relaunch it the week the country went into lockdown in March. He had hoped to develop the business, but due to the coronavirus outbreak, those plans are "on hold for the time being".
He said they will probably keep the name but brand it as Secret Herb Garden Café by Fhior, similarly to Jupiter Artland. When it reopens, the café will offer a daily-changing menu using produce from the garden.
In the meantime, they will sell the produce through their ‘root to market' initiative, which they introduced to connect suppliers with guests and deliver their produce across the city.
Smith said: "What's the point in putting together a plan to survive if, on the other side of it, none of the suppliers that have made the restaurant what it is survive? It's self-defeating, so the ‘root to market' initiative was a big part for us to maintain business for all our suppliers."
The business is currently making approximately 600 deliveries a week, which Smith said is "just managing to cover all our overheads for the three businesses".
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