Two sisters who grew up in Findhorn have set their sights on taking over one of the hubs of their home village, where they have both worked since leaving school.
Dawn and Alisha Payne are raising capital to buy The Bakehouse Market, lock, stock and barrel, after the current owners announced they were taking their ‘long overdue retirement’.
David Hoyle originally opened the Bakehouse in 2006, and during the Covid pandemic, turned the cafe into an organic marketplace. He and his wife Jan are supporting the duo before putting it on the open market.
Long-serving staff members Dawn (29) and Alisha (36) who have both worked at the outlet on and off since it opened, are weel-kent faces in the Bakehouse.
Dawn said: “David and Jan see our passion and belief in what they have created and so are giving us the opportunity to take it on.
“We’ve dreamt of running a business in food for many years and have spent countless nights discussing how that might take shape. While it feels like a significant commitment, it also feels right, and where better to take this leap than in our hometown! With a combined experience of over 30 years in the industry and having worked in The Bakehouse on and off for much of that time, we feel confident stepping into this role with a good understanding of the business, its values, and customer base.
“We’ve both travelled and gained experience, at times working together in restaurants and cafes half way across the world. Both of us have worked in the hospitality industry our entire lives but have always found ourselves gravitating back to the Bakehouse and home.”
Alisha explained how the sisters have often found themselves working side by side: “After leaving Findhorn to travel in South-east Asia, we ended up living and working together in Penang for a year. We both worked front of house in a Cantonese seafood restaurant that primarily catered for traditional Chinese weddings.
“Later, we were given the opportunity by the owner to open a cocktail bar adjoining the restaurant, where we created the menu and managed the entire operation ourselves.
“We also worked together in Barbados in a similar establishment to The Bakehouse—a café featuring local artists and hosting a wide-ranging weekly farmers’ market.”
In Barbados, Alisha managed the kitchen, later taking the role of general manager and Dawn managed the front-of-house before leaving, and came back home to help run the Bakehouse, which was still a thriving cafe at that time.
The Bakehouse is a much loved establishment within the local area and has visitors from all over the world who come back year after year. Starting off as a cafe and bakery but more recently adapting into a food market to survive through the pandemic, it managed to keep its doors open.
It now supplies local, organic and sustainably sourced produce as well as freshly baked breads, coffee and treats and a small but popular takeaway open seven days a week.
The duo plan to expand the takeaway menu and relocate the dry goods packing into the main shop, with the potential for zero waste shopping on some products.
Dawn continued: “While there are numerous possibilities, our initial focus is on getting through the door, ensuring the business continues to run smoothly, and making gradual improvements. We would love to create some indoor seating and cover the outside tables for the colder months ahead.
“The positive feedback from the locals of Findhorn has been incredible. Whether it’s neighbours stopping us and our family on the street to share their excitement and wishes for success; or the numerous contributions and messages of encouragement we’ve received since launching our GoFundMe page.
“Many customers from the local community and beyond who frequent The Bakehouse have shown immense support, which has been heartwarming and inspiring to say the least.
The sisters have put all their own resources into the project and are looking to raise an additional £100,000 through a GoFundMe campaign, and they’ve amassed more than £6600 in just seven days.
Alisha said: “We’ve initiated the GoFundMe campaign for those willing to contribute through donations. However, we’re also actively seeking financial investment to support our venture. As well as researching funding opportunities within the local area. Our goal is to establish a robust foundation for The Bakehouse Market, and we welcome both financial contributions and investments from individuals who share our vision and passion for sustainable business.
“For us, the Bakehouse has been a vital and integral part of growing up in Findhorn, teaching us the importance of healthy and wholesome foods, providing jobs and work experience for young people and supporting the local growers and producers around the country.
“Any funds raised will go towards our initial purchase of The Bakehouse business and to assist us in maintaining the hard working and dedicated team, making the necessary updates to equipment and ensuring the excellent quality of our ingredients continues.
“In discussions with David and Jan, two options have emerged. The preferred scenario for us all is for us to purchase everything in one go—the business, assets, and buildings in one transaction. The alternative is acquiring the business now while entering into a rental agreement for the property, affording us time to eventually purchase the Bakehouse and Bakery buildings independently.”
Donations can be made at https://gofund.me/e0c7e255
The sisters emphasise that if, for any reason, it doesn’t happen, they will return all donations.