Tucked down a lane in beautiful Bridge of Allan is The Hideaway Café. Opened in 2014 by owner Elena Menichetti, the aptly named Hideaway is a Scandi-inspired hangout, that is ‘all about socialising and escaping’. Just a stone’s throw from one of our newest properties at Walmer Apartment, it’s also our Local Hero this month. We spoke to Elena to find out what makes her café so special.

The Hideaway Cafe, Bridge of Allan

Quirky, cosy and fun: the interior of The Hideaway

The Hideaway Cafe, Bridge of Allan

Bringing the comfort of Scandi hygge to the heart of Bridge of Allan

Both stylish and homey, The Hideaway Café interior brings together the cosy spirit of Scandi hygge with Elena’s training in fashion. And the setting is perfect, though Elena had her doubters: ‘I chose Bridge of Allan because I was brought up there. My family’s restaurant is 30 years strong and the longest standing restaurant in the village. People thought I was mad opening up ‘another’ café – especially down a lane – but I knew it was missing from the village. I just knew it would work and it did!’

Home is where the heart is

Was it an obvious career path? ‘Restaurants run in my family; I was brought up in one. As I grew older I swore to my dad I wouldn’t end up working for the family, which he respected. Then I reached a certain age, college had ended, the fun had stopped, my family was growing bigger by the day with nephews and nieces – and I met someone. Home now looked so much more appealing, so I decided to open my own place.’

Team work and pride

When asked about what makes the café work so well, Elena points first to her people: ‘The core behind The Hideaway is the team. I never call myself the owner or the boss, because I’m part of that team. And because every single one of us takes so much pride in working there.’ And what does it offer its clientele? ‘The Hideaway is so many different things to different people,’ observes Elena, ‘but for me I think it’s laid back, all about coffee, all about good food and all about chilled-out vibes. It’s a little bit ‘city’ too, a bit quirky, and I think people appreciate that!’

Valuable time

But behind the aesthetics, Elena knows a thing or two about graft: ‘The thing I learned most from my family growing up in a successful restaurant was consistency. Be really good at what you do. Work really hard. And be consistent. That’s why our regular customers come back. Because they know what they’re getting – every time. Life is fast-paced for many of us, and people enjoy spending money on nice things. If they know they can come and leave feeling the little time they had wasn’t wasted, and that their money was well spent, then we’re doing our job.’

An ever-evolving menu

And what are the café’s food inspirations? ‘My favourite thing to do at the cafe is change the forever-changing menu. Staying ahead of the game and coming up with new dishes you won’t find elsewhere. I’m forever reading cookbooks, pinning on Pinterest and screenshotting on Instagram. I’m lucky I have an awesome chef who listens to me and gets my vision. Seeing what you had imagined on a plate going out to customers is pretty cool.’

A family’s heritage

It’s clear that Elena’s heritage is at the very heart of the café: ‘I’m from a really driven family. It’s totally built in me. My papa – who passed away last year – was a diligent, amazing man and – I guess from the age of three – watching him in his pet shop and seeing how hard he worked, rubbed off on me. Followed by watching my parents. I’d hang around their business when I was young, waiting for them to finish up. I’d listen to the regulars, who would always say how hard-working they were. My drive is to be the same, and to make them proud – which I know I have.’

The Hideaway Cafe, Bridge of Allan
The Hideaway Cafe, Bridge of Allan
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