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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 25/03/2024

Hayley Wilkes has worked in hospitality since she was 13, working as a restaurant chef and later as a freelance private chef.

She grew up in rural Wales, which she credits for fuelling her passion for building quality food and drink experiences in rural areas and their important role in maintaining and growing trade from visitors, boosting the local economy.

How they got started

"We're not posh but we're all about real food."

Hayley knew she could make fantastic pies and decided to take on her first kitchen on a golf course in Monifieth, selling pies directly to golfers.

They were made from scratch, using ingredients from Scottish suppliers and producers. A number of fillings have a clear Scottish identity. Next, she took them to sell at Angus Farmers’ Market and they quickly took off.

In 2017, Hayley entered the pies into the BBC Good Food Show Artisan Producers Awards. She won and the prize was a stall for three days at the BBC Good Food Show in Glasgow, which was a great platform to share the brand with consumers.

How the business started to grow

"Believe in your concept"

During lockdown, WeeCOOK Kitchen teamed up with local businesses to offer home deliveries to customers.

These collaborations led them to form Appetite for Angus, a passionate network of food and drink businesses who work together to promote access to local food and drink, and offer mutual support.

Hayley used her time during lockdown to enter awards. She won the MacLean Cup for the best speciality savoury pie at the World Championship Scotch Pie Awards. She also won several Great Taste Stars, giving her plenty of free publicity and credibility.

Winning national awards for their products and the restaurant helped make her a destination for food-focused visitors, not only from Scotland and the UK, but with international visitors too.


The WeeCOOK Kitchen team with their World Championship Scotch Pie trophy

Developing the customer experience

WeeCOOK Kitchen diversified to create a number of streams within the business, offering different ways for customers to shop and experience WeeCOOK hospitality.

As part of her business planning, Hayley has kept her focus on the importance of harnessing the tourist trade in Angus. She knows that eating out forms a large part of the visitor experience and spending. In some cases, it is even the motivation for the trip.

The pies are made fresh every day and sold either through farmers markets, or her online shop for either local collection or delivery. She also has a courier service serving Great Britain. This service is helpful to capture sales from further afield or through media coverage.

There is a WeeCOOK restaurant in Barry Downs Holiday Park near Carnoustie, which has space for 26 to 28 visitors. They sell the pies as part of a short menu, with everything made from scratch using quality local ingredients.

The location helps to catch passing trade from visitors in the area. There are plenty of walkers and cyclists, using nearby trails. They're also very close to the nearest bus stop.

Hayley has a reciprocal arrangement with the nearby Balhungie Berry farm, sending business in each other’s direction.

Workshops are also an important strand of the business. Hayley runs pie-making classes, for which she sells tickets to the public through Eventbrite.

She also partners with other local business to form local trails, which run on specified days of the year.

These are popular options for tourism group bookings. 

Travel trade listings are a steady source of business. They receive bookings for a "demo and dine" experience. This offers a hands-on cooking session, plus a meal. Another popular group event is the "pie panel" tasting session.

Hayley sees plenty of opportunity to grow this side of the business. WeeCOOK Kitchen is listed with VisitScotland and Visit Angus. Hayley is also a member of the Angus Tourism Cooperative. 

Collaboration with local businesses remains so important. Together, they are able to share a real taste of Angus’ food and drink with visitors.


WeeCOOK Kitchen stall at local farmers market. Image credit: WeeCOOK Kitchen and Farm

What has been the key to their success?

  • Location

    Their current location has proved extremely beneficial in attracting business from the many visitors in the area engaging with leisure activities.

    The steady footfall is an opportunity to make the most of an online offering, which also helps to convert interest into business.

    With increased numbers of visitors returning post-lockdown, WeeCOOK Kitchen has seen a 27% increase in gross sales from February 2023 to 2024.

  • Collaboration

    Collaboration with like-minded businesses has really helped to cement WeeCOOK Kitchen’s place as a key player in the Angus food scene and participating in new initiatives.

    This enthusiasm extends to nurturing her team, and Hayley is extremely proud of the time she has invested in developing her colleagues who have gone on to win awards for their cooking.

  • Technology

    Leaning into technology is a top recommendation. The following offered useful ways of connecting with visitors and sources of data:

    • optimising their website
    • using social media
    • using Google Analytics
    • using an electronic EPOS system


  • Training

    Helpful training courses include a Skills for Growth course from Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise, and extra support with marketing, health and safety, and HR.

    Industry groups, such as the Scottish Bakers Association, and local networks, including Angus Tourism Cooperative have also offered useful courses and training sessions.

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