Following the tremendous success of his family-owned restaurant, Paul Fairweather has opened a new bakery called Edna Mae Bakehouse just a few doors down on Exchange Street.
Named after his “formidable” granny, Edna Mae’s Bakehouse opened its doors yesterday, September 2, for a “tentative and soft opening” with plans to remain open from 11am-4pm every Thursday to Saturday at the Exchange Street premises.
Experiencing the same issues that much of hospitality is facing when it comes to staff shortages, owner and head baker Paul didn’t want Edna Mae’s to become “overwhelmed” and chose not to announce the opening ahead of Thursday.
“We’ve started with a soft opening and just opened the doors for people to pop in while they are coming past,” says Paul. “We’ve had lots of people knock at the door to ask when we are opening so Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week we’ve decided to just open our doors from 11am-4pm to see how much interest there is and so we aren’t overwhelmed with people at first.
“We’re having the same issues with staff and chefs as much of the rest of hospitality is at the moment so we don’t want to over promise anything and not be able to deliver on it.”
Naming the bakery after the lady who inspired his hobby, Paul and his wife Kelly have ensured the cafe pays homage to Edna Mae with pictures of her also included as part of the decor.
“Edna Mae was my grandmother,” Paul adds. “She was a bit of a formidable lady, she was fab! Our family had a limousine company and we used to drive the Queen and nanny was one of the main drivers for them.
“She was really ambitious but also a great granny. I would go and see her and she’d say ‘what do you want to bake today?’ and that was our thing. It was the eldest grandchild/grandmother type relationship.
“I’ve always baked and Edna Mae really inspired that.
“When we were looking to open a bakery we played about with lots of names. One of them was Nanny Edna as, because she was a character, it meant there was a good story there and it means something to us.
“We’ve got lots of pictures of nanny in the bakery and we’ve done it up in a way that makes you feel like you’re coming to your granny’s living room for tea and cake. We’ve got an old haberdashery counter and lots of pictures of nanny and granddad.
“She passed away three years ago and this is a way of keeping her name and legacy going.”
Making all of the baked goods from scratch, including cakes and fudge, Paul hopes to be able to expand the business and supply his homemade goods to other cafes and coffee shops across the city.
“The bakery is a little bit quirky, but we also wanted a cosy feel to it. We’ve also got some old fashioned sweeties, handmade fudge and some cake,” he continues.
“It’s me and Amanda Dunlop, who is the baker at The Selkie, making all the food for Edna Mae’s. Amanda has joined us for the opening and we’ve got another two people joining us as well.
“The plan is that we’ll do all the cakes for The Selkie, and the baked goods we sell for retail and wholesale from the Edna Mae kitchen as well.
“We will also be looking for other little coffee shops to supply that are wanting to offer home baking but don’t have the facilities.”
Opening the bakehouse a few months later than planned, both Paul and Kelly have experienced not just staffing problems, but issues with finding tradesmen to help turn the former barber shop into the new bakery cafe.
Paul adds: “We took on the new premises in March and the idea was to get it open by April. But tradesmen are so busy just now and there’s a massive shortage. It used to be a barber’s shop and I don’t think, until we stripped it out, we realised how much there was to do to it.
“Then the lockdown got lifted and we knew we’d be allowed to open again on April 27. Chefs had been quite hard to come by. My wife Kelly does a lot of cooking in The Selkie, and that restaurant is almost like our baby, so we didn’t want to be opening Edna Mae’s and leaving The Selkie short.
“So we have been running way behind schedule from our original plan. We’d planned to open on April 2 but it ended up being September 2.
“We’ll probably only be open on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 11am-4pm, to begin with and then we will play it by ear and see what happens.
“We just hope that no matter what is going on out in the world, there are still places to get really good tea and cake. That’s really what we’re about and hoping to bring with Edna Mae’s Bakehouse.”