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Restaurant’s phone is smokin’ hot as fans jam lines while they count down the days to opening

Blair Armstrong-Payne, left, and Rob Duncan.
Blair Armstrong-Payne, left, and Rob Duncan.

It is only a couple of days until the popular Smoked Thistle follow up their food truck and takeaway options with their first restaurant.

Excitement is building for the team at The Smoked Thistle as they prepare to open the doors of their first restaurant this week.

And the phone has been ringing off the hook as people who love their smoked American-style barbecue meats try to book tables at the new venue.

Having enjoyed success with their mobile and takeaway options, the team at The Smoked Thistle will open their first restaurant at Craigtoun Meadows Holiday Park, near St Andrews, on Thursday April 28.

With hungry customers flocking to their recently-opened takeaway base at Balunie Drive in Dundee, the move to Craigtoun was a natural progression.

Rob Duncan says it has been all hands to the pump to ensure things are ready for Thursday’s grand opening at a location that is ideal for The Smoked Thistle and what they produce.

And tapping into the tourism market with many Americans visiting St Andrews and the area nearby is key to their strategy.

The new restaurant at Craigtoun Meadows Country Park.

High quality

He said: “It’s a great location for us. In terms of high-quality American-style barbecue food, St Andrews is probably the epi-centre of the UK American tourism, certainly Scotland if not the UK, and a huge student population too.

“It’s an amazing site with a phenomenal reputation and it fits our core values well and the management are super supportive of what we are doing. It’s really good for us.

Rob Duncan, left, and Blair Armstrong-Payne inside The Smoked Thistle’s restaurant.

“The restaurant is always something we wanted to do. With Balunie Drive we sort of fell into that by accident and the set-up there was good for us and it worked really for our customers.

“St Andrews as a restaurant gives us an opportunity to do slightly different food, but obviously still around the classic American technique.”

Smoked Thistle menu

As soon as people heard The Smoked Thistle were to be opening up a restaurant, the phone started ringing, added Rob, who says there will be favourites and new dishes on the menu.

“We have been inundated with people trying to book tables, as we approach opening. We have been focusing on trying to get the menu right and ensuring the restaurant is in line with our brand as possible and looking really good for opening date,” he added.

“A lot of work and research has gone into the menu. We will have classic American dishes with a Scottish twist – steak pies, but more with an American twist, and we will be doing different styles of American steaks.

“Our main brisket and ribs will definitely be on the menu and we are trying to bring in some other things, especially with our lunches which we expect to be very popular with home-baked cookies and cakes and lots of different things in there as well.

“We will also be trying some new stuff, like smoking our own hams, paninis, so there is lots to do.”

The Smoked Thistles restaurant Craigtoun Meadows Country Park.

Craigtoun launch

The team at The Smoked Thistle are expecting a busy start to life at Craigtoun, especially as the country begins to open up again after lockdown.

And they aren’t forgetting about younger fans of their popular food.

“The holiday park is booked out for the next few weeks so we expect it to be pretty busy, while we also have a very nice outdoor seating area. We are just waiting to get our alcohol licence,” he said.

We are almost ready to welcome you to our new restaurant at Craigtoun Meadows Holiday Park!The beast has had an…

Posted by The Smoked Thistle on Sunday, 25 April 2021

“The restaurant will be set up with a very exciting kids’ menu. We just introduced a kids’ menu into Dundee which has gone down well, featuring chicken nuggets for instance, which are freshly produced and completely made in house. We’re just trying to keep really good quality and cater for a wider audience.

“We have the woodfire smoker on site as well, which we will be using quite regularly. We are getting a barbecue installed outside so we can do that too.

Blair, left, and Rob with their smoker.

“We expect to be pretty busy. The lunch menu is going to be pretty exciting with lots of our own smoked meats on that.”

While expecting to open on Thursday, Rob warned that they may be forced to delay seating people inside due to government guidelines.

“Under normal circumstances, the restaurant seats 35 and then outside between 20 and 30.

“Looking at the guidelines we probably wouldn’t be able to seat too many people indoors so may need to delay that as it would not be financially viable for us, but we will open with seating outside and for takeaway until restrictions ease.”


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