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Westside artisan bakery on the rise

Robert Tonkinson of The Quernstone - Photo Elizabeth Atia

AN ARTISAN baker in the westside is set to expand his business by opening dedicated premises in Aith, creating new jobs in the process.

Robert Tonkinson launched The Quernstone last year, but there is no longer enough space in his Sandness Hall workspace for the baker to meet increasing demand.

Planning permission has now been granted for Tonkinson to renovate the disused upstairs of the Eid Community Co-op, with the baker hoping to recruit staff later this year.

Tonkinson has enjoyed success with a variety of homemade products, such as focaccia bread, Danish pastries and the popular westside cobs, which have been sold in shops like Scoop in Lerwick.

Work is expected to start on the Aith bakery soon, with the premises set to be ready to go in a few months.

Tonkinson has been looking for new premises ever since starting work in Sandness, with the baker – who works by himself – limited to making only three different items at the same time.

This means that he has had to turn away some business from retailers looking to stock his products.

“There’s far more work than I can do right now,” Tonkinson said.

“There’s a few shops that have come to me looking to buy my stuff, and I can’t make enough.”

The westside man started baking six years ago after working through an apprenticeship at the Walls Bakery.

He feels moving his work to Aith will act as a fresh start for the business.

“You can call it less of an expansion and more of starting up there officially, ” Tonkinson said.

“There’s serious limitations on what I can actually make at Sandness right now.”