Blue Toon man’s business wins big

Books and Beans owner Craig Willox with his coffee and retail awards
Books and Beans owner Craig Willox with his coffee and retail awards

A Peterhead man’s business was crowned among the best the north-east has to offer when he walked away from a recent awards ceremony with two Aberdeen retail prizes.

Craig Willox grew up in the Blue Toon, and opened Books & Beans on Aberdeen’s Belmont Street in 2003.

The unique coffee shop won City Centre Retailer Award and Coffee Shop/Cafe awards at the inaugural Local Retailer Awards, which celebrated businesses across the north-east.

The awards aimed to recognise businesses at the heart of the community. Those retailers who are at the lifeblood of the local economy and make neighbourhoods better places to live. They hoped to promote long-established and emerging retailers and encourage more people to shop local.

Thousands of people across the North-east spend their lives working to serve the public and improve the communities they work from.

The ceremony took place in front of a packed audience at the city’s Beach Ballroom on Friday, October 30.

The event was organised by the Evening Express and Aberdeen Inspired.

Aberdeen Inspired’s chief executive Gary Craig, said: “The awards have been a fantastic celebration of the businesses at the heart of our community and we were delighted to be part of such a well-organised and popular event.”

Mr Willox told the Buchanie that he was ‘really keen’ to at least win the coffee accolade as ‘we were up against another couple of places in the area’.

He said: “It was a huge buzz to win and was an achievement for not just me, but all the staff. To win the town centre category was a real surprise, we thought we had a chance so to win both was amazing.”

Mr Willox used to work at Leslies Florist when it was in Peterhead and the Blue Toon’s Waverley Hotel, and had several other jobs - including a spell at Disneyland Paris - before completing a catering degree, which led to the opening of his business 12 years ago.

Books & Beans is describ ed by VisitScotland as ‘a quirky wee coffee shop, second hand bookstore and Internet cafe’.

It offers customers the chance to peruse and purchase a collection of first and second-hand books - from one of the largest second-hand stores in the north-east, while they enjoy food and drink on three floors, as well as access to the shop’s nternet and a printer.

Also taking home a top prize at the awards was Bert Fowlie butcher Strichen who walked away with the top Butcher Award.