Catering Lease Opportunity Pier Cafe, Stronachlachar

Catering Lease Opportunity Pier Cafe, Stronachlachar

Background Information

A range of visitor facilities is managed at Loch Katrine by Sir Walter Scott Steamship Ltd which is a trading subsidiary of the Steamship Sir Walter Scott Trust and has responsibility for securing and sustaining the future of the 121-year-old Sir Walter Scott Steamship for the nation. The Trust is non-profit making with surpluses from the trading company being used to maintain the steamship, other passenger vessels and other visitor facilities at Trossachs and Stronachlachar Piers.

The trading company is responsible for the day-to-day management of shore-based facilities at the pierheads and a fleet of four passenger boats on Loch Katrine. Some facilities such as cycle hire and fishing are leased out and, until early 2021, the Pier Café was successfully leased out to a couple who were model tenants but, sadly, had to terminate the lease due to family illness. For much of the 2021 main season, the café remained closed due to the impact of COVID 19 and the loss of the tenants but on the limited number of days it was open it traded successfully with a mixture of sit-in and takeaway services.

The previous tenants operated the café very successfully with a daytime operation between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm from March to October. They reduced opening to 4-5 days per week on more limited hours between November and February. They also opened a couple of nights a week during part of the year for pre-booked dining and they were often fully booked with a mixture of self-catering and hotel guests staying locally in Strathard as well as local residents.

While the Café was closed the opportunity was taken to substantially improve the gent’s toilets and upgrade the electrics in the building. Following recent storm damage, extensive roof repairs are planned.

A more ambitious car park expansion scheme is currently underway that involves providing a new 22 space woodland car park, an additional 6 car park spaces on the lochside and conversion of 4 existing spaces for overnight stay campervan bays with hookups for wifi, water and electricity.

Other improvements underway include levelling up and re-surfacing the large lochside outdoor eating area next to the café for use by café guests, building a new steps link between the café and the outdoor seating area, installing recycling litter bins and a water top-up point for site users and the creation of safe bike parking areas for the rapidly growing number of cyclists using the re-opened 14-mile lochside road or passing through on longer cycling itineraries, including the two lochs tour.

There are also plans to introduce daytime parking charges for use of the car park and overnight charges for a small number of campervanners as part of plans to improve site management as well as contribute to sustaining the steamship operation.

In parallel with this, a major investment is being made restoring the 121-year Steamship Sir Walter Scott which will be re-introduced with twice daily sailings to Stronachlachar this summer alongside other sailings. One of the passenger vessels calls in twice daily during the April to October period and there are occasional visits from the smaller Osprey boat which is available for charter hire.

The Opportunity

There is an exciting opportunity to be part of the growth and development of tourism at Loch Katrine with a 5-year renewable lease available for the 50-seat capacity licensed cafe and large outdoor seating area on the lochside at Stronchlachar Pier. This is a busy visitor hub with a steady flow of cyclists, walkers and sightseers enjoying the Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve and seasonal cruises on Loch Katrine in the heart of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. There is a strong catchment area for locals as well as visitors staying in holiday accommodation with the potential for some optional evening trade to supplement the core daytime cafe and takeaway business.

There is no requirement to follow what was provided previously and we would be interested in working with operators who, as a minimum, can provide good quality daytime café and takeaway services. Provision of more extensive daytime and limited evening dining services would be at the discretion of the successful operators as would the core seasonal and year-round trading hours based on visitation patterns and viability criteria. There is an expectation the café would be open 7 days a week between March and October with a more limited opening during the rest of the year.

Tender Requirements

We would welcome written submissions which should be with us by noon on Thursday 27th January. We would anticipate reviewing the submissions and liaising as appropriate within a 10-day window with a decision being reached on the successful bidder within 2 weeks of the submissions being received.

Ideally, interested parties should have a track record in the catering and hospitality industry and be able to demonstrate they have a strong commitment to making a success of this venture through the delivery of a range of services that will contribute to enhancing the overall visitor experience at Loch Katrine and supporting the local community. The successful operators will be required to work closely with the Sir Walter Scott Steamship Co. and help with the management of the upgraded Stronachlachar Pier car park and pier facility for the benefit of the public.

The successful operators will have responsibility for day-to-day repairs and maintenance of the building and outdoor seating area, including kitchen and storage equipment once the current round of improvements is complete. With our written agreement the successful operators can upgrade the décor in the building and purchase and/or replace kitchen equipment and crockery. For the avoidance of doubt the current furnishings, equipment and crockery will remain in the ownership of Sir Walter Scott Steamship Ltd.

Submissions should include the following:

  1. Relevant background information on the potential operators and any team members that will be directly involved in managing the café operation.
  2. Proposed opening hours, staffing mix and levels by season.
  3. Sample menus for daytime and optional evening opening.
  4. Any proposed building, fabric and equipment improvements planned, including indicative costs.
  5. An outline business plan with projected income and expenditure (we appreciate the projections will be indicative and we will extrapolate and make available some of the relevant fixed costs incurred by the previous operators e.g., water and power charges).
  6. A commitment to catch the ropes for the steamer during the cruising season and to keep the public toilets at either end of the building open at reasonable hours and in a good state of cleanliness.
  7. An agreement to manage the upgraded car park in partnership with Sir Walter Scott Steamship Ltd to a high standard, including monitoring the display of car parking tickets, collection of overnight campervan fees not pre-booked and regular walkabouts to pick up litter.
  8. Details of the proposed financial offer include a base contribution for the lease, monthly rental sum and turnover percentage share. Our preference is for a mix of a monthly rental and percentage of annual turnover which should help to minimise the risk for both parties. We do not intend to issue details of a suggested rental and percentage of turnover amount but interested parties should be aware in this financial year we will have invested over £100,000 in building and site improvements and therefore we require a return on this investment through a combination of café leasing and car parking charging.

All bids will be treated on a strictly confidential basis and bids will be assessed and scored using a mix of criteria including the overall quality of the submission; the experience and track record of the operators; staffing and opening hour proposals; suggested type of operation and menus; willingness to take on commitments for site and building maintenance and management; ability to work closely and constructively with Sir Walter Scott Steamship Ltd staff to deliver high quality and seamless visitor experiences and, importantly, the lease financial offer amount and mix.

Two referees should also be included in the submission which you are happy for us to contact. One at least should be business-related. Bank references would also be desirable for the successful applicant.

Written submissions should be sent marked for the attention of Gordon Allan at Sir Walter Scott Steamship Ltd. Submissions by email to: gordon@lochkatrine.com will be acceptable and please remember they should reach us by noon on Thursday 27th January 2022.

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