The Little Greek Shop in Andreou’s Bistro is offering a little taste of home to lovers of Greek Cypriot food visiting the Arbroath restaurant.
Have you ever visited Greece or Cyprus and wished on returning to our shores that you could buy some of the diverse produce here?
You can now thanks to an initiative by Andrew McDonald of the popular Greek Cypriot restaurant Andreou’s Bistro in Arbroath.
Andrew has added a small shop to his High Street eatery selling traditional Greek Cypriot fare that people can try out or use to create their own meals at home.
The chef/owner of the bistro in the picturesque seaside town had been asked on a few occasions by customers hoping for the chance to buy some Greek Cypriot foodstuffs, so decided to experiment with the shop.
“I run a Greek restaurant so I thought it made sense to bring some of the products in and sell them as well. I had a lot of interest from customers in the products, typically Greek herbs and spices, honeys which are of really high quality, and you can’t really get them anywhere else,” Andrew explained.
“I got into contact with a couple of my suppliers, one in Glasgow and one in London, and asked them about selling some of the products and that was how it started.
“Sales have been decent for something that is a small shop and it picks up once people see the different sort of products we have available.”
Greek Cypriot ingredients
The 35-year-old, who is of Greek Cypriot origin himself, also uses some of the ingredients in the dishes he prepares in his restaurant which is slowly returning to normal after running a takeaway service from it for almost an entire year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Andrew added: “I use the spices, the herbs, the honeys, the alcohol, the vine leaves, the breads – I use pretty much everything that you can see on the shelves.
“You can’t recreate an entire dish from what we have available though as many parts of our dishes are homemade from scratch here, but the generic base ingredients for some dishes are available.
“It’s good for someone who wants to try and make something using different sorts of spices that you can’t get here, or different ingredients that you don’t necessarily find here.
“And it’s good for people who go on holiday to places like Greece and Cyprus and they like the ingredients that get used there, but then they find they can’t get them in Scotland.
“It’s great for Greek locals, too. We get a lot of Greek people who live in the area coming in and half of my family are Greek Cypriot who live locally so it is great for them and is a little taste of home.
“My mum is a Greek Cypriot national and it is great for her to pick up traditional foods and ingredients.”
Now fully back open, albeit with restrictions, Andrew is delighted to be doing what he loves, and what he does best, cooking up traditional Greek Cypriot food for his hungry customers.
“We were doing takeaways before we opened back up, so it has made a massive difference for us to actually be able to trade indoors again. We are not a takeaway, we are a restaurant, so it is completely different for us,” he said.
“We can serve a much better quality of food when serving it in the restaurant rather than putting it in boxes and delivering it to someone’s door. It is fresh on their table, which is really what we are all about.”
And customers have grasped the opportunity to dine out again at the popular eatery which is situated near Arbroath’s picturesque seafront and harbour.
“Every weekend we have been fully booked, for Saturdays we are fully booked around a month in advance. During the week we are a wee bit quieter, but during the weekends we are flat out busy,” Andrew continued.
“We had a pub on one side and a restaurant on the other, but during the first lockdown I changed it into a restaurant on both sides so we have a lot more space and we are managing to fill all of the spaces so it was definitely the right decision.
“We also have the beer garden which has been popular, although not as much with the bad weather in May. We had three gazebos that all blew away during that spell of bad weather so it has been quite difficult trying to get some permanent cover out there, and if the weather is bad we can’t really have people out there.”
Diners, too, have been delighted to be enjoying their Greek Cypriot food in the restaurant, and Andrew has been working hard to ensure everyone feels safe when visiting.
“All our regulars are back. We have people who come every week and they are delighted to be back,” he said.
“A lot of people aren’t quite sure about how safe it is so we got screens made between the tables just to make people feel a bit more comfortable.
“You can see people slowly gaining confidence and with the vaccination programme really progressing that has brought a lot of people back out.
“I have seen a real difference from the first couple of weeks of being open until now. It is definitely getting back to some sort of normality.
“The table restrictions and seating being one metre apart is not great for business. When rules get relaxed again we will see more people coming back again.”