Law graduate Nicole Beattie turned her baking hobby into a business and opened her own café, First Bite, in her home town of Langholm last summer. She tells Carol Hogarth about her recipe for success

When Nicole Beattie found herself locked down at home in Langholm during the pandemic in 2020, like many of us, she baked. But the enterprising law student took her skills a step further, launching Beattie’s Bakes, selling her sweet treats online for locals to order and collect.

And last year Nicole developed her business further by opening First Bite, a cosy café in her home town, offering freshly cooked breakfasts, light bites, salads and a vast array of cakes, biscuits and other goodies.

Great British Life: Inside the cafeInside the cafe (Image: Jenny Woolgar)Great British Life: Nicole loves running her own cafeNicole loves running her own cafe (Image: Jenny Woolgar)

“I wanted it to be a real family run place, with friendly service and quality, affordable, homemade produce,” she says. Since opening last July 2023, First Bite has proved a huge hit with Langholm locals and visitors, providing another much-needed town centre eatery.

“Our first summer was really intense and so busy,” says Nicole. “I was really surprised, especially at how many tourists came in. About 80 per cent of our trade was from visitors to the town.”

Although the winter months are a little quieter, the café is well supported by locals who appreciate having a welcoming place to meet and enjoy favourite dishes, daily specials and coffee-and-cake deals for older people.

Great British Life: Sweet dreams are made of thisSweet dreams are made of this (Image: Jenny Woolgar)

“We know them all and they know us. I think they like coming in for a blether.”

Nicole chose to study law at Glasgow Caledonian University when she left Langholm Academy, but the self-confessed ‘home bird’ missed the Muckle Toon. The pandemic struck during Nicole’s fourth year at university, so she based herself at home, sitting her finals online, and baking in her spare time. Noticing that cake companies and cafés were diversifying into online selling at that time, with great results, she seized the chance to launch her Beattie’s Bakes business from a rented kitchen unit in the town centre.

“I was never passionate about my law degree, but managed to complete it, while thinking about what I could do to be based in Langholm after graduation,” she says.

“With Beattie’s Bakes, people could order online then come and collect. I did mainly brownies, blondies, cookies, scones and sausage-rolls plus wedding and birthday cakes.”

Great British Life: Chef Carol Coulthard making a custard cream biscuitsChef Carol Coulthard making a custard cream biscuits (Image: Jenny Woolgar)

Nicole also sold her produce at farmers’ markets and pop-up stalls and established a loyal following.

“I’ve always loved baking,” she says. “I used to bake all the time with my Nana [Joyce Coulthard], especially sponges and cupcakes when I was growing up.”

Aware of a strong demand for another town centre café in Langholm, Nicole began looking for suitable premises and was delighted when an empty café in Market Place became available. “It’s in such a great location for people passing by,” she says.

She remodelled the kitchen and toilets, redesigned the counter and refloored and decorated the 26-seater, dog friendly café to create a light, bright space.

Her mum Jacqueline, who was chef at the Douglas Arms in Langholm for 20 years, and her aunt Carol Coulthard both work full-time at First Bite and her best friend Ellie Hotson, helps out too.

Great British Life: First Bite's Muckle Toon BreakfastFirst Bite's Muckle Toon Breakfast (Image: Jenny Woolgar)

“There’s no way I could have done it without them,” Nicole says. The café’s breakfast menu includes a ‘Muckle Toon’ cooked breakfast as well as breakfast rolls and homemade porridge. Lunch could be soup or quiche of the day, a sandwich, wrap, jacket potato or tasty salad.

Hot and cold drinks include fruit juices, milkshakes and coffees with a selection of syrups. The cake counter is always well stocked, with a mixture of traditional bakes – many based on Nicole’s Nana’s recipes – and modern creations. Customers can eat in or take away and later this year, Nicole hopes to open a small garden at the back of the café which could seat another 20. “There’s definitely been a demand for another café in Langholm. I hope it’s somewhere welcoming that will stand out and that people will come back to.”


Great British Life: Custard CreamsCustard Creams (Image: Jenny Woolgar)

Nana’s Custard Creams recipe


• 250g margarine

• 170g caster sugar

• 250g self-raising flour

• 80g custard powder

• Pinch of salt


• 100g butter

• 200g icing sugar


1. Heat the oven to 140 oC.

2. Cream together margarine and caster sugar.

3. Add the self-raising flour, custard powder and salt.

4. Roll out to 1cm thick and use an 8cm cutter to cut discs.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, then leave to cool.

6. Cream together butter and icing sugar

7. Use a piping bag with a chunky nozzle of your choice to pipe the filling and sandwich together.


Great British Life: Biscoff Rocky Road Biscoff Rocky Road (Image: Jenny Woolgar)

Biscoff Rocky Road recipe


• 500g white chocolate

• 200g Biscoff spread

• 200g Biscoff biscuits

• 150g mini marshmallows


1. Line an 8 inch square baking tin.

2. Break up the Biscoff biscuits and mix with marshmallows.

3. Melt white chocolate over a pan of simmering water, or with 10 seconds blasts in the microwave.

4. Add the Biscoff spread to the chocolate and melt until it combines. 5 Add the biscuit and marshmallow mix to the chocolate mix. 6 Spread into the tin and leave to cool. 7 Chop into pieces and serve.