Sandy McKinnon

Sandy McKinnon established the well-known Aberdeen eatery, Foodstory alongside his business partner Lara Bishop in 2013. Since then the business has flourished and become a staple establishment for the people of Aberdeen.  Here Sandy tells us how he got his first taste for entrepreneurship while studying business at the University of Aberdeen, and how he went From Aberdeen To Foodstory.

Having been set the project of creating a hypothetical business and running it for a year, Sandy took a more innovative approach. Gathering some friends from his course, he helped to run the newly established radio station for the Societies Association as his not-so-hypothetical business project.

“I just loved it, I knew I made the right choice coming to the University.”

Sandy continued to nurture his interest in business after University; having watched a lot of River Cottage and developing a lot of recipes, he came up with an idea for a soup company called ‘The Hearty Soup Company’. However, the direction of the company shifted when his business partner Lara saw an opportunity to buy a small café called ‘Foodstory’. Lara had been running the café when the current owner decided to return to their family business and close the café by the end of the month. Sandy and Lara bought the company, and found themselves with a café, the name ‘Foodstory’, and very little money.

In order to combat their financial restrictions, Sandy and Lara started a crowdfunding campaign. The company’s core value of community was fed by this campaign, since the locals who had helped to fundraise for the café became invested in its establishment. When the café did open its doors in November 2013, the momentum built by the Kickstarter meant the locals of Aberdeen were ready for Foodstory.

In celebration of five years since Foodstory opened, Sandy returned to the University of Aberdeen to set up the campus’s first zero-waste café.

Having been one of the first vegetarian/ vegan cafés in Aberdeen, Foodstory has always valued the environment as an important part of their ethos. As part of an ongoing campaign to reduce waste and packaging, the University of Aberdeen approached Foodstory to set up their second branch on campus. Foodstory-Zero was born: “We are perfectly aligned with the University and the way it is thinking.” Having begun his journey in business at Aberdeen, Sandy has opened a new chapter with the University by bringing his innovative company into the heart of the campus.  

Looking to the future, Sandy hopes to support staff showing the skills and passion to start their own business with the ‘Foodstory Franchisee Scheme’. Foodstory aims to continue to build a sense of community by offering momentum and financial backing to ambitious staff. Rather than directly franchising, the company will become a shareholder and set up business with them.

Sandy describes how Foodstory’s ethos of community, environment and food relates to his time at the University of Aberdeen: “It takes me back to when I was at the University and you have that sense of community around you.” Ten years since graduating from Aberdeen, Sandy’s café is now helping to create a more sustainable campus and adding to the community which he enjoyed as a student.