Friends brew up a treat at Dam Good Coffee

When Gail Morrison sold her successful Alloa business last year she planned to take six months off before deciding what to do next. 

But just days after handing over the keys to the new owners of Kidz World in Alloa, an opportunity arose to lease the former visitor centre in Gartmorn Dam Country Park.

Alongside her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Anderson, she decided it was too good an opportunity to miss. The friends ploughed £40k into the building that had lain empty for 10 years, transforming it into Dam Good Coffee and creating 11 part-time jobs in the process.

Since opening at the end of last year, the coffee shop and kiosk has built a loyal following with walkers, dog owners, cyclists and runners enjoying the homemade food, Fairtrade coffee and stunning countryside. 

Now, with the help of Business Gateway Clackmannanshire, the owners are set to improve the café’s online presence in a bid to attract more families, retirees and outdoor enthusiasts before embarking on further development plans.

Gail said: “My dad and I had been in business for nine years running Kidz World nursery and soft play. When he retired last year I decided I would take some time off, but the visitor centre put paid to that! Elizabeth and I saw the potential in the building straight away and have turned it into a bright and welcoming coffee shop. So far the feedback has been fantastic.

“We’ve big plans for the business, but before we can make them a reality we need to establish a solid customer base so having a strong online presence is a must – and that’s where Business Gateway can help. Our adviser had already given us support with staff contracts and our employee handbook before referring us to the DigitalBoost programme. The 1:1 support that we will shortly access will help us update, add TripAdvisor reviews, an online booking system, and a photo gallery as well as help us put in place a digital marketing strategy.”

Alison Davidson, Business Gateway Clackmannanshire, said: “In business, opportunities can arise when you least expect them and that’s exactly what happened here. Gail and Elizabeth saw the potential to create a new future by putting their stamp on the building. Now, after benefitting from HR advice they will access up to 21 hours of tailored support from a digital expert through DigitalBoost, which is funded by Digital Scotland, to help them grow the enterprise.”

Already Gail and Elizabeth are looking to expand their outdoor seating area later this year and potentially build a dog café, where man’s best friend and their owners can relax together. 

The ultimate aim, however, is to be given the opportunity to buy the building so they can add an extension and turn the café into a hub for outdoor activities. 

Gail said: “At the moment the café looks out onto the park so our aim if we get the chance to buy the building outright, would be to extend and give customers a view of the water as well as the park which would make the cafe a fantastic venue and outdoor hub.”

Find out how Business Gateway Clackmannanshire can help your business by visiting the website or calling 01259 726430.