Nicky Don has run Pots in Falkirk’s Cow Wynd for over five years and this week she was named the best café in Central region at the Scottish Café of the Year Awards.
Having previously picked up the accolade in 2018, Nicky said she never imagined that she would be fortunate enough to win again.
She said: “To say I was stunned when they read out Pots is an understatement. I was pleased to be a finalist as it’s your customers who nominate you so I thought it was important to attend the final.
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"But I really never expected to win again. It's tremendous and after a really tough couple of years with the pandemic this is brilliant.”
The finalists are all visited by mystery customers and then, along with their findings, a panel decide who should get the award.
Over 200 businesses gathered at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow on Monday for the ceremony with the overall winner being named as Bridge 49 Café Bar and Bistro, near Linlithgow.
Nicky, who lives in Falkirk, said that she had always worked in the hospitality industry and although she wanted to run her own business felt the time was never right.
"In 2016 I decided that if I didn’t do it now then it would never happen. I started looking around and saw Pots was up for sale. But when I got in touch with the then owner he said a sale was already underway.
"However, a week later he got in touch to say it had all fallen through and was I still interested. It seemed to be meant to be.
"Lots of people from the café I managed before followed me here and quickly became my regulars,” she added.
Although she employs three others, Nicky does all the cooking and baking herself – with cheesecake and carrot cake the favourite dishes for her customers.
She added: “There’s no escaping that we’ve been through the mill during the last two years, but my partner Leon Whittit has been a tremendous support. Also, my best friend Nicole Reekie who works for me has been amazing. Even when we couldn’t open she would come down and help with cleaning which was so kind of her.”
During the strictest days of lockdown, Nicky helped ensure that her most vulnerable customers were supported. She started off cooking and delivering hot meals to eight people who she knew lived alone and had no relatives nearby to look out for them, but this number quickly grew and she was soon feeding much more on a regular basis.
She used hundreds of pounds of her own money buying ingredients to create a range of dishes, from pasta to soup and stovies, and took orders via Facebook from those who knew of elderly and vulnerable residents in Falkirk district.
Pots is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9.30am to 3pm.