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Crowdfunder will be launched by Ellon smokehouse and barbecue food business to help it grow

By Kyle Ritchie

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An Ellon smokehouse and barbecue food business is set to launch a Crowdfunder so it can grow and expand its facilities and look at opening a second location.

Alistair Hagen owner of Meat Monsters, which is based at the town's Balmacassie Commercial Centre, will open the funding campaign this Friday.

If successful it will add an all-weather outdoor eating and teaching space at its current base and launch a second eatery in the Aberdeenshire area.

Meat Monsters provides wood-smoked barbecue food with a focus on sustainability and using and supporting local suppliers and the community.

It has an eat-in and dining space, collection and delivery service, can provide home smoking masterclasses and catering for events and parties.

Mr Hagen said: "The first goal of the Crowdfunder campaign is to redevelop the whole front of the smokehouse and create a very large all-weather eating and teaching space, that we can use pretty much all year round.

"This will include creating a couple of small barbecue pits that people can hire if they don't have the benefit of a back garden or are living in an apartment by themselves.

"And an outdoor kitchen space that gives us the capability to take our teaching outside as barbecue is meant to be outside. That's where I spent most of my hobby outside cooking through the night.

Meat Monsters owner Alistair Hagen.
Meat Monsters owner Alistair Hagen.

"It will be a space where folks can come and eat and to learn as our masterclasses are very popular.

"The second goal is for us to establish a second location. It won't necessarily be a second smokehouse in the same way we have at Ellon but it certianly would be something potentially that allows us to extend the range of our collection and delivery operation.

"As yet I am not 100 per cent decided on where the location will be, whether it be south towards Aberdeen or nearer Peterhead and Fraserburgh, especially given the huge amount of support from the people in those towns."

The business started as a hobby for Mr Hagen, who formerly worked in the oil and gas industry and his love for wood smoked food and barbecue stemmed from his time working in America.

About 10 years ago he came back from one of those trips and bought his first smoker for the back garden.

In late 2017 the opportunity arose to start the business and he decided to go for it.

He built the smokehouse in what was a derelict workshop and opened in the summer of 2019.

Business was going well and it was gathering a large following but then the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Mr Hagen though adapted its offering and kept its takeaway and delivery service going. This built momentum as people were looking for something nice to eat while stuck indoors.

Meat Monsters also carried out fundraising for the Ellon Community Resilence Group and provided discounts to NHS and key workers.

Mr Hagen added: "Through the course of that period we managed to grow our reputation, even through that difficult time, and we managed to survive.

"Having gone through a period of survival what we really want to do now is to start thriving."

It has a focus on the environment and sustainability with the measures it has taken including ensuring 100 per cent of its takeaway food packaging is compostable; its packaging and food waste is collected and commercially composted locally; using ethical producers and suppliers of meat to assure the welfare of livestock in the food chain; and using renewable energy.

The business received a boost recently when it was rated in TripAdvisor's top 10 per cent of places to eat worldwide.

The Crowdfunder launches on Friday, September 17, and more information about it can be found at its Facebook page www.facebook.com/MonsterinChief

It will run for four weeks and is an "all or nothing" campaign, which means the business must get to its £40,000 target or it receives nothing.

For those pledging a variety of benefits are available including merchandise, discounts on food, chilled sales, events and classes and early access to ticket only sessions.

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