The Tickled Trout, a new cafe in Perthshire is back in the swim after coronavirus forced them to close after only opening for five days.
The Tickled Trout in Almondbank opened its doors on June 24, 2021 after a massive refurbishment.
But five days later they had to shut their doors after, sadly, as a family member tested positive for Covid-19.
However, following a period of isolation, they opened back up again on July 14 and are loving serving their tasty sandwiches, paninis, bagels, soups – and their Tickled Trout pate to hungry customers.
The family-run business is based in the historic Beetling Mill and is part of a working trout farm.
Family-run for 50 years
Jenni Cummings, who runs the cafe and the trout farm with her husband, Andy, oversaw a full renovation project which took a year, but the operation had been in the family for more than 50 years having been started by her father.
“The trout farm was established in 1967 by my dad, David Brien, who built it from scratch in an old beetling mill that was around 200 years old,” she said.
“He built the ponds for the trout. Half of the mill had been converted into accommodation but the rest was just used for storage.
“My husband, Andy, and I took over the farm from my dad in 1999. We had mainly been restocking it with rainbow trout, but we were forced to close in 2016 when they started building the floodwalls for the Almondbank Flood Prevention Scheme.
“We only got fish back in the pond last February and they have only come up to size this year so this is our first season back as a farm since we had to close.”
The Tickled Trout dream
Having been shut for a while, thoughts turned to how they could build the enterprise and, with their situation on a popular walking and cycling route, opening a cafe seemed like a viable option.
“We were anxious about how we were going to pick the business back up and it has always been a dream of mine to convert the other side of the mill because it is such a fantastic building,” added Jenni.
“It is one of the only original mills left on this stretch of the Almond where there used to be seven.
“During lockdown, we applied and got Leader funding from Perth and Kinross Leader Programme and that helped some of the renovation costs. We put in a new roof, new insulation, underfloor heating, toilets and a kitchen, but we have retained as much of the character of the building as we could.”
Lade runs through building
Perhaps, one of the most unusual features at The Tickled Trout is that water runs right through the building.
Jenni explained: “The lade (man-made structures that were built to supply water to mills) runs through the mill where the water wheel used to be. We have a little feature walkway where you can walk around and over the lade which runs right through the building and goes on to provide the water for the ponds at the fish farm.
“We have an upstairs space that we have renovated and we are hoping to do courses in there, Christmas wreath-making, cake decorating, yoga, that sort of thing. Something for the community.
“We have tried to upcycle as much as we can. The tables in the cafe, the servery and the worktops in the toilets are all made out of the sleepers that were across the lade. It is all old chairs that we have painted up and upcycled, so there is quite a rustic feel to the place.”
The family have been blown away by the feedback they have received to date.
“We have been overwhelmed by the response, with not just great local support but also people coming from outwith, cyclists and walkers, which is primarily who we are trying to attract, being on the Sustrans 7 cycle route,” continued Jenni.
“We are also dog friendly, so we are ideal for people who are out and about and are looking for a pit stop. We have outside seating and people can come and see the farm and get something to eat at the same time.”
The Tickled Trout smoked pate
Jenni added that the menu isn’t huge as they settle into the new venture, but customers have been enjoying the homemade goodies.
“We do coffee, teas and homemade cakes, soups and sandwiches, we do our own smoked trout pate with oatcakes, and we have 10 different flavours of ice cream.
“The menu is quite small because we don’t want to stretch ourselves before we find our feet. We do filled morning roles as well.
Jenni added that they also have future plans to introduce farm tours to see their ponds and hatchery which proved popular in the past.
And it is a real family affair with children, Erin, Ryan and Taryn, back from university and all helping out over the summer.
“One is waiting, one is the social media guru – they have all been given a job,” laughed Jenni.