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New departure at Sumburgh

Cheers! Julie Moncrieff and Paul Ritch will open Café Volare inside Sumburgh airport's departure lounge next month. Photo Dale Smith

THE FIRST café to set up inside the departure lounge at Sumburgh airport is set for take off next month.

Caffé Volare launches on 1 December with a promise of “high quality” coffee alongside luxury sandwiches, paninis and pastries.

The Italian-style venture is being set up by local firm G&B Anderson, who run Lerwick’s Brucefield Stores, after they were approached by airport owners HIAL as part of their £6.5 million refurbishment.

The company drafted in local duo Julie Moncrieff and Paul Ritch to run the café as the new-look departure lounge is transformed from a bare room with a vending machine and a duty free shop.

The couple have chose an art deco theme and have already started recruiting staff, with the full-timers becoming the first people in Shetland to be professionally trained by the Scottish Barista School.

“You don’t realise how many bad cups of coffee you’ve had until you go away and train as a barista,” Moncrieff said, insisting that fine-tuning such as grinding and temperature is vital to a good brew.

“We should be offering high quality coffee. There will be food like baguettes, paninis and wraps, and we’ll also be serving cakes and pastries.

“My sister and raw food chef Heather will provide us with some vegan treats as well, and there will be gluten free sandwiches and things like that. Hopefully we can cater for most folk.”

The café will also have a drinks licence, offering anyone needing to soothe pre-flight nerves a choice of alcoholic beverages such as wine, Prosecco and bottled beer.

Moncrieff has previously worked in public-facing roles at venues such as Mareel and the Garrison Theatre, while Ritch has won plaudits in the food industry.

“He doesn’t tell many people about this, but Paul won Scottish Waiter of the Year in 2011 when Pizza Express nominated him,” Moncrieff said.

“He worked there for 12 years in Edinburgh at the West End.”

The duo expect around four to six full-time staff members to be joined by part-timers to help the café cover its proposed opening times of 6am-8.30pm.

Moncrieff added that the airport is set to relax its ticketing rules to allow passengers to check-in when they first arrive at the terminal, giving them extra time in the departure lounge before their flight.

The café will be making the most of the high number of oil and gas employees currently going through the airport.

The recent spate of technical and weather delays to Loganair flights could also provide a bonus if they continue.

The café’s one drawback – its restricted access to ticket holders only – could be countered if the business proves to be a success.

“It might be the start of a peerie chain, you never know,” Moncrieff said, coyly. “We’ve certainly thought about it.”

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