Christmas lovers can rejoice as House of Farnell café and shop near Brechin has reopened under new management, just in time for the festive period.
Friends Sarah Farrell and Fiona Gray got the keys to the former school house – famed for its Scandi charm and delicious food – in September.
They opened the old wooden door to excited customers on November 10 and have already been busier than expected.
The pair, both 46, used to visit the festive venue in the Angus village of Farnell with friends in the run-up to Christmas.
Sarah is a baker and Fiona is from a farming background and, you guessed it – they both love Christmas.
The duo had been looking to start a business together now that their children have reached their teens.
What is House of Farnell?
House of Farnell has a long history, having been established in 2000 by Dane Paula Nissen. Paula wanted to share the traditional way her home country celebrated the season of goodwill.
It came under new ownership in 2015 and now Sarah and Fiona are putting their own stamp on the place.
They’re keeping things much the same – but introducing a few new elements, too. They have also employed eight part-time members of staff.
Take a look inside …
Sarah explained: “We couldn’t bear the thought of someone coming in and completely changing it. We’ve given it a bit of a spruce up – we’ve had to have the electrics upgraded.
“House of Farnell is known for its Scandi vibes so we don’t want to deviate from that. We have some fabulous new suppliers coming from Denmark.
“We’re also really keen to support local small artisans as well so we are having a lot of handmade and local items as well.”
Sarah and Fiona have been friends since their youngest sons started nursery together. They had considered a similar venture a few years ago, but felt their children were still a bit young.
Then, a chance conversation happened and Fiona heard through a friend that House of Farnell was coming on the market.
The café is a huge part of the venue’s charm with the busy kitchen in view as you walk through the front door.
It makes for a pleasant day out for food and drink as well as a spot of Christmas shopping.
Sarah explains: “Fiona and I would visit every year with friends. It’s just such a magical place when you walk in at Christmastime. You automatically get that festive feeling and the smells and the fairy lights. It just puts you in the mood.
“You come with your friends and you want to get a good cup of coffee, home baking, Danish pastries, good soups. Fiona makes fabulous soups!”
What’s on the menu?
Open from 10am to 4pm Wednesday to Saturday, lunches are served between noon and 2.30pm while coffee and cake is available all day.
The café will offer freshly-made soups which are usually gluten-free with a vegetarian option available, too. Sandwiches and paninis range from £5.35 to £6.45 and there is a children’s menu, with dishes priced between £3.85 and £3.95.
Sarah’s cakes change daily and there will be Danish pastries as well as other traybakes.
In addition, a delivery of aebleskiver – tasty mini doughnuts – has just arrived from Denmark.
These will be served warm with sugar and Sarah’s home-made jam for dipping. The sweet treats range from £1.95 to £2.50.
Wherever possible, Sarah and Fiona intend to offer gluten-free and vegan options for their customers.
The café doesn’t take bookings but, as in previous years, there is a waiting list by the door which customers can add their names to if it is full.
Traditionally, House of Farnell only opened between September and December each year. Sarah and Fiona will close for Christmas on December 18 – but they intend to be back again sooner rather than later.
She explained: “It’s such a beautiful building and it seemed a shame for it to sit empty all year round apart from 12 weeks.
“Our plan is, rather than just opening at Christmas, we’re going to open for blocks with the seasons. It will give us the chance to get stock in all year.”