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Perthshire school encourages students into hospitality with new campus coffee shop The Art Cafe

Strathallan art cafe
Madi Salins working in the new cafe.

A Perthshire boarding school is putting pupils at the heart of its new café in an attempt to encourage more youngsters into the hospitality sector.

The Art Cafe at Strathallan School, which will open on Saturday (May 28), will give students a safe space to gain skills such as barista training and waitressing, while giving them a platform

The venue is located in the school’s three storey art department and will be open to students, their families, staff members and visitors to the school.

Replicating the operational hours of the school day, the café will be open from 8am to 4pm with senior students aged 16 to 18 years able to work various shifts.

Strathallan art cafe
Blend owner Sandeep Salins.

Sandeep Salins, 48, who runs, Blend, which has shops in Dundee, Paisley and Perth is the man who has made the project happen and will oversee the venture.

The idea to open a training café came to fruition after the businessman brought a coffee horsebox to the school for a sporting event in October 2021.

He realised how popular it was and wanted to create a more permanent offering at the school his daughter, Madi, attends.

Inside the new cafe.

The main focus of the venue is to provide a space for the students to unwind and meet up with others in a more relaxed environment.

Some of the students were already employed by Blend’s Perth branch and Sandeep has now teamed up with the school to help further equip their pupils with useful life skills and give them an insight into the hospitality sector.

Hospitality experience

Dominic Glasgow, 29, who is the digital media manager at Strathallan school, says the café has been an important addition to the school.

More than 1,000 people can be on-site on any given day.

“The philosophy behind it was that we were wanting to provide a space where pupils, staff and former pupils could come back and feel welcomed,” he said.

“Some of our pupils are working in the café and they are getting the skills they need for university.

Strathallan art cafe
Madi Salins working in the new café.

“And it gives them opportunities outside the usual school lifestyle.”

Strathallan is a boarding school so many of the youngster’s lives revolve around the school day, those who visit the school and there is also a big focus on after school activities.

The new venture will expose pupils to new challenges in the 62-seater venue including serving and making coffee for customers.

Strathallan art cafe
Dominic Glasgow, digital media manager at Strathallan school.

Dominic added: “When we have big events and sports days, the young people will be interacting with individuals they may have never met before.

“They will gain experience of managing the day-to-day processes of a café and it is a great skill to have.”

What is on offer?

As well as serving coffee, The Art Cafe will also boast a small selection of sweet and savoury snacks that will be supplied by Blend.

Food items include croissants, traybakes and cookies, and savoury options like bagels and paninis will be introduced in the near future.

Once the venue is up and running the space at the back will be converted into small meeting rooms and a counselling room.

Furthermore, Dominic says the cafe has plans to host comedy nights, open mic nights and music nights where the students can socialise in a more informal setting.

Seanlov Norza, a sixth form student from Malaysia who works in the cafe, added: “I’m not sure what’s better, the view or the coffee.

“It’s the perfect place to recharge after exams.”

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