A new owner has breathed life into a neglected travel stop outside Forres.
The roadside venue, occupied for many years by Little Chef on the eastern side of the Findhorn Bridge, has undergone a complete transformation and opened its doors as Fourtwo HQ last month.
Kenny Spink has turned his passion for everything motorsport-related into a vibrant, colourful venue for motorists, but with a modern twist, it’s also a fashionable and family-friendly place to eat.
Kenny, from Nairn, said: “Driving past this place almost every day for the past few years, I’ve often thought what an ideal location it is. It’s near to the town, yet is a nice relaxing place to stop right by the river.
“I’ve always been deeply into cars and bikes and confess to being a bit of a petrolhead. I’ve bought and sold more than 40 cars and it’s something I wanted to do more commercially.
Kenny’s love for motorsport is evident in the venue, but not overbearing. The squiggly lines on the ceiling are his three favourite race tracks. The suit hanging on the wall is one actually worn by Isle of Man TT racer George Spence. His front-of-house supervisor, Nikki Duff, when she’s not making a tasty cappuccino, is on George’s pit crew.
But Kenny emphasises he’s not going to try and sell you a Skoda with your soda.
“Combining the café with a showroom isn’t a ploy to get people to take a test drive,” he joked. “Fourtwo Performance is our motor sales arm, and Fourtwo HQ is a place to eat. We serve locally-sourced food and we prepare it ourselves, even down to the coffee, which is roasted nearby, and freshly ground at the counter.”
The combination seems to be working. In the two weeks they’ve been open, the Moray Coast Bike Club and RBLS Bike Club have both stopped to enjoy FourTwo fare.
He has branded his motoring arm Fourtwo Performance with the intention of selling higher performance cars and bikes.
“There are already some nice cars on the forecourt, and stock will increase as time goes on. Everything will be serviced locally, warranted and have a 12-month MoT. Our motor stock will be high quality, just like our food.”
“I want to emphasise that anyone is welcome. I’m a biker myself, and it’s a convenient place for bikers to stop because of the parking and ease of access, but it’s not a bike-only zone.”
Unsurprisingly, the building work took a lot longer than anticipated.
Kenny spent months gutting and rewiring the building, replacing the hot water system, windows and frames, and the ambience is modern and comfortable.
“I bought the building in May and wanted to open in July, but it needed a lot more work than I expected to bring it up to the standard I wanted.”
Fourtwo HQ is open daily from 8am till 7pm.