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Rabbie’s launches new hospitality venture

Entrepreneurial founder of Rabbie’s Small Group Tours, Robin Worsnop, is launching a new hospitality venture which he plans to roll out across the UK and Ireland from February this year.
Believed to be the first of its kind for the tourism and hospitality sector, Worsnop has developed a new concept, Rabbie’s Café – be a part of it!  Initially Rabbie’s Cafes will be developed at all Rabbie’s UK departure points - London, Dublin and Glasgow, as well as a ‘second terminal’ in Edinburgh.   In the future Robin Worsnop says it is more likely that Rabbie’s will open cafés in key UK cities then develop tours from those locations.

He explained the thinking behind the idea:  “The café is an extension of our clients’ experience.  By offering hospitality to Rabbie’s travellers as well as other visitors, we are extending the overall Rabbie’s offering.  On our tours, we promise to deliver a unique and memorable experience to last a lifetime; the café enables us to extend this experience through outstanding local food, drink and hospitality.”  

The first Rabbie’s Café, situated at 6 Waterloo Place in Edinburgh, will be open to everyone.  It will sell ‘the best coffee in Edinburgh’, freshly made smoothies, gluten-free foods and locally-sourced food all day, from 7.30am to early evening.  Even the baristas will be renamed Rabistas!  

Opening of the Rabbie’s Café comes at a time when business and other organisations are calling for mixed use of high streets across the UK.  Edinburgh’s Princes Street is of particular interest with the potential to be more than just a regular retail high street.  They are pushing for an improvement in the quality of visitor experience on the high streets, longer opening hours and a wider range of uses – particularly more cafes and restaurants.   Robin Worsnop says this is exactly what Rabbie’s Café, at the east end of Princes Street, will provide.  

“Rabbie’s Café will be one of the few independent locally-run businesses in the area.  We will be open longer hours and will provide the best hospitality that Scotland can offer. It would be fantastic if Rabbie’s Café was a pioneer in the resurgence of Princes Street,” said Robin.   

Robin explains why he is developing the café experience at this time.  

“I wanted to open a café 17 years ago but I didn’t have the time or the money to do it then.   I had to concentrate on building the tour business which we have done very successfully (continuous growth over 20 year history; Rabbie’s has grown almost fourfold in the last five years).  Now that Hazel Rickett has taken over the day to day running of the business it has given me enough time to focus on building the brand in other ways.  If we can emulate recent growth rates and further develop innovative new product offerings, Rabbie’s will become a £200 million business in 10 years.”

A coincidence, which no doubt impacted on the timing of this project, was the availability of the site at No. 6 Waterloo Place.  

Robin explained:  “In my parents’ house, there is a picture of old Edinburgh, replete with horse, cart and old trams, which was given to them when they lived in Casablanca.  It is striking to see the similarities and differences in this picture to today as our view looks the length of Princes Street, The Balmoral and the new Apple Store.   Coincidentally this picture is exactly the same view as from the front door of our new venture at No. 6 Waterloo Place, Rabbie’s Café!”

In addition to the café, the 750 square metre building will include a stunning room on the first floor which will be available for private hire.  With three-metre high floor-to-ceiling picture windows the newly renamed ‘Burns Room’ affords outstanding views the length of Princes Street right to the west end – possibly the only room in Edinburgh with this view.

Work starts on the Rabbie’s Café this month (January) with a projected opening date of late February 2014.

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