17 Degrees Mag


Falkirk Business Hub, Falkirk, FK1 1LL

Featured Stories

The Woodside

Never has the love of food, drink and above all good times been clearer than at The Woodside in Doune.


Located in the heart of the Forth Valley, the newly renovated property is a showstopper and an example of Scottish Hospitality at its finest! 12 months in the making, the recent refurbishment of The Woodside came with a price tag of 1.4 million pounds, and not a penny of that investment has been wasted.


Open to residents and non-residents alike, The Woodside is sure to be a new hub for the local community. The hotel itself is a beautiful building and the 11 letting rooms are large and spacious. Their new facilities include a pub with a full range of premium beers, lagers, gins, wines, and cocktails. A function suite for events can hold up to 40 people. The Woodside even boasts their own coffee house with hand roasted coffee, and home baking. Their brand-new restaurant provides homemade and locally sourced breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to patrons. Dining is also available outside in their fabulous newly created terrace area.

The Front of House team at The Woodside are all smiles on arrival and nothing is too much trouble. The group is led by General Manager Vicky McInnes and supported by Operations Manager Richard Mcmullan who were responsible for the opening of the Allan Park in Stirling.

The Food

At The Woodside the focus is creating great quality, interesting dishes with both Scottish and classical French influences

“Our ethos is simple. Simple things done well. Our food is not “fancy”, you will never see a “foam” on our menus. Anyone can make a burger, but if it is done well it can be a truly wonderful thing.”

This ethos is clearly shared by the culinary crew at the Woodside. The team is led by Executive Chef Robert Cichock alongside Head Chef Craig Symon. Robert Cichock is also heading up the kitchen teams both at the Riverside in Dunblane (with Head Chef James Mason) and the Allan Park in Stirling (with Head Chef Matthew James). Something is clearly working when it comes to this team of chefs: the food is delicious.

The Story

So, who are the mysterious pioneers behind this fabulous addition to the local culinary scene? The Riddle’s that’s who! Stuart Riddle, along with his wife Jo, are owners of several hospitality venues, and are creating a portfolio of pubs, restaurants, and hotels.

Stuart started his career working in the kitchens of AA Rosette awarded hotels, later becoming head chef at the 2 AA Rosette Dunain Park Country House Hotel. Stuart went on to impress in various roles including, Menu Development Manager at the Spirit Group, Catering Controller at Bellhaven Pubs and Head of Food Development at Greene King. A resume such as this, has set him in good stead for running The Woodside alongside Jo – a former restaurant manager herself.

“My now wife and I had talked about having a restaurant when I was a young chef and she worked as a restaurant manager in the late 1990’s, but we didn’t feel it was realistic and wouldn’t have known where to start”.

In 2013, Stuart and Joanna started their first hospitality company and embarked on a £700,000 development of the Stirling Arms to create “The Riverside – pub, kitchen & coffee house”.

“After a successful career in the corporate world and surviving several redundancy scares and numerous restructures, we felt we would like to be masters of our own destiny. We also felt that we could do it better than the nationals. At that point, I was 36, I handed back my company car keys, and we created The Riverside”

The Riverside was heavily remodelled to offer a modern 140 cover venue while still retaining the best of its heritage features. Situated on the river in the heart of Dunblane, the new Riverside was a victory, with locals embracing the refurb.

After the success of their Riverside venture, the pair invested £1,200,000 renovating The Allan Park Hotel in 2018. Located in Stirling, it was renamed “The Allan Park – pub, restaurant & coffee house w/ rooms” and transformed into a contemporary 120 cover venue with 8 letting rooms.

In November of 2021 they took ownership of their third property, The Woodside Hotel now known simply as “The Woodside”.

The Area

So the intrepid couple have chosen Perthshire as the home for their latest venture. We asked them why they seem so drawn to the area?

“Perthshire is such a captivating part of Scotland. It is home to a wealth of incredible foods, food producers, breweries and distilleries and there’s just so much for our guests to enjoy in the local area”.

It is true that this Hotel is nestled in an enviable location. Situated near the historical Doune Castle, The Woodside makes an excellent base for exploring the Trossachs and Western Highlands. The local area is beautiful as well. From historic spots like The National Wallace Monument to family fun at Blair Drummond Safari Park, there seems to be something for everyone here.

After a day of fun and exploration, it’s all back to The Woodside for a warm welcome in cosy comfort. Stuart and Jo’s fabulous refurbishment of a traditional Doune property, has breathed life into the local area and reinstated an historic community hub to its former glory.

“The Woodside really is our dream come true and we look forward to welcoming you through its doors.” – Stuart & Joanna Riddle

To Summarise

Whatever your reason for visiting The Woodside – a healthy or hearty breakfast, a relaxing overnight base to explore the local area, fantastic food with family in the restaurant, a glass of wine or a local beer with friends in the bar – you can be assured of a friendly welcome from staff who care.

The atmosphere is a success, the food is fantastic, the renovation is tasteful and adds to the character of the building. This place is not to be missed! To find out more info or to experience The Woodside for yourself, please visit their website here: https://www.thewoodsidedoune.co.uk/

Featured Stories

Go Forth Working for Stirling

Go Forth Stirling is one of the 37 active BIDs (Business Improvement Districts) in Scotland working to enhance the high street experience and deliver projects specific to their business community’s needs.

A Background of Business Improvement Districts

A BID is a geographical area in which the local businesses have voted to invest together to improve their environment. Essentially, they are an agreement between businesses to improve commercial enterprise in a particular location.

The levy collected from local businesses is used to develop specific projects and initiatives which will benefit all business trading environments in the local area, increase footfall and generally provide support to businesses. These improvements can include providing additional services or projects, outside of what the local authority already covers. It can give these businesses and authorities vital funding, resources, and the opportunity to realise the potential of an area more quickly.

BIDs were first established in Canada and the US in the 1960s and now exist across the globe including in South Africa, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Legislation enabling the formation of BIDs was passed in 2003 in England and Wales and in 2006 in Scotland. There are now 333 BIDs across the UK as a whole and now over 1500 worldwide.

Benefits of a Business Improvement District include:

– Businesses being more autonomous and influential around what happens in their local area
– Improving the area can attract more customers, resulting in more income (and therefore potentially more employment)
– Networking opportunities for new and growing ventures.
– All monies invested or raised remain in and are reinvested in the local area.

The Team

Go Forth is headed by Project Director Danielle McRorie-Smith who is responsible for the vision and direction of the BID, devising and initiating its many projects, liaising with members of Stirling’s business community and running the organisation’s day-to-day operations. She is supported by Digital Communication and Community Engagement Officer Jitka Fleglova who is in regular contact with the BID’s levy payers. She also administrates the organisation and runs its social media platforms.

The BID Street Ambassadors Gail Lamb and Josie Brown are the ‘eyes and ears’ of Go Forth Stirling in the city. They carry out a variety of roles including listening to the concerns of business owners, tackling graffiti and helping tourists gain the best possible experience of Stirling. They also log and report any street issues each day. The BID also has a 13-strong non-executive Board led by Chairman David Black who also chairs Stirling City Heritage Trust.

The Board is made up of local business owners who help shape the BID’s strategic direction and ensure the organisation carries out the aims of its Business Plan.

Making a Difference Stirling

Go Forth has been working for Stirling for just over five years and has accomplished many fantastic things during that time. One of the highlights is the ground-breaking Street Stories project, which transforms empty shops into vibrant works of art. The initiative, which can be seen in vacant shop windows around the City, features a range of animated artworks showcasing the work of Scottish artists including Jacqueline Marr and Michael Corr. Each artwork is brought to life via interactive Augmented Reality (AR) and forms part of a Trail telling the stories of Stirling’s people, heritage and history via mediums such as mosaic, dance, mural, digital, and fluid art.

They’re also proud of bringing Bricklive’s Fantasy Kingdom tour – a fantasy trail featuring life-sized brick models of dragons, castles, wizards and princesses – to Stirling. The magnificent free Lego Trail was unlike anything Stirling had ever seen before – it entertained residents and visitors alike and brought 8,000 people to the city.

Another project which has made a real difference to Stirling is their Supercharged Shopfront Improvement Grant, which has revitalised the look of the city centre. Business owners were able to apply for a grant of up to £5K to give their shopfronts a facelift, and many took up that offer. Highlights of the project include the transformation of Greek family restaurant Café Aina (King Street) with a fresh look which includes restored marble signage and a completely new and improved shopfront for the Fone Express store in Upper Craigs.

In the Thistles, Go Forth contributed to internal ‘wayfinding’ signage, which directs shoppers to retailers based in the centre. Meanwhile, the 17th century Pend (lane) – which leads to The Pend Café Deli & Bistro and Frances Hunter Hair & Beauty in Port Street – has been beautifully renovated with the archway’s original stonework restored and the introduction of new lighting and planters.


The Next Five Years

The team were delighted with the results of their re-ballot in the Summer which saw business owners give a resounding ‘Yes’ to a second term. Danielle McRorie-Smith (Director) says: “Our second term began in September 2022 and our ambitious five-year plan includes better street cleaning, ongoing free public Wi-Fi in the city centre and the continuation of our popular grant schemes.”

There are also plans for new events including an enhanced winter festival and the introduction of annual business awards beginning next February. Other key proposals include tackling parking concerns, introducing improved wayfinding and signposting around the city and addressing the number of vacant properties in Stirling.

Danielle elaborates: “We will react to and manage whatever the business community requires through dedicated support and lobbying; maintaining current projects and services and evolving to introduce and develop new initiatives. We also aim to invest £1.8M in Stirling during the second term, with projections based on the amount of capital from levy payers plus the extra grant funding the BID expects to leverage.”

Business Success Stories

There have been many amazing success stories over the past five years but here are some of the highlights that the team shared with us.

The Street Ambassadors have proved a real hit with the business community and visitors. Since they began work just over a year ago, they’ve made great strides in tackling environmental and anti-social issues such as graffiti, listening to business owners and taking on board/feeding back their concerns and signposting visitors around the city.

Go Forth established an online training platform in April 2020 to offer business owners the opportunity for flexible, cost-free training. Since then, 7,500 courses have been have enrolled in the diverse range of more than 20 CPD-accredited courses which include all levels of Food Safety and GDPR. 620 individuals have now been certificated in Go Forth’s Fire Safety Training Course. The programme is particularly aimed at the city’s hospitality sector, which was hit hard by pandemic restrictions, and includes the Alcohol Licensing Awareness (Scotland) training course which is mandatory for all staff involved in serving or selling alcohol. Details of this course and all the available training options are available on the Go Forth Stirling website – www.goforthstirling.co.uk/online-training

Last year, Go Forth and Stirling Council joined forces to launch a free Wi-Fi service covering the entire city centre. Residents, business owners, shoppers and visitors can access the service via their smartphones or other devices anywhere in the city centre. The move boosted local investment in internet connectivity and digital transformation and saw the BID achieve one of the central goals set out in its original five-year business plan.

Finally, one of their most successful stories has to be their ongoing Independent Stirling marketing campaign. Go Forth launched a new brand – Independent Stirling – to support the amazing range of independent shops and businesses Stirling has to offer. Independent Stirling has a dedicated website – www.independentstirling.co.uk – featuring an interactive map of Stirling’s independent traders plus business profiles and Blog posts highlighting the hidden gems of Stirling and the talents and individuality of local entrepreneurs.

The website is supported by a wider social media campaign which includes photos and videos to promote businesses and an ‘I’m In’ sticker initiative to display in shop windows and highlight Stirling’s independent culture. It also includes a promotional video showcasing the flourishing independent scene and featuring more than 20 businesses.

Join the BID

Businesses in Stirling that are not technically in the BID geographical area can still be part of the BID. Go Forth offers a voluntary levy scheme which means any business outwith the current BID zone, but within the Stirling Council area, can become a member by paying a yearly levy linked to their rateable value. Businesses in areas such as Causewayhead, Bridge of Allan and Riverside are welcome to come on board and be part of the BID.

The Future is Exciting

Danielle highlights their plans: “We’re very excited about our forthcoming Independent Stirling Business Awards which launch in November and take place in February next year. Planning is underway and the event will feature a variety of Awards Categories – including Café of the Year and Hair & Beauty Business of the Year – plus a special Outstanding Contribution to the City Award.”

The Awards are open to all independent businesses in the city centre BID zone and they will be nominated and voted for by members of the public and the business community. They will then be presented by a special guest at a glittering Awards Ceremony at the Golden Lion Hotel on Thursday, February 23, 2023.

Go Forth Highlights

– £165K invested in festive lighting – ALL NEW lights coming this winter
– The BIDs public WiFi network has kept 60K people connected in the city centre since its introduction
– 84 businesses have had a grant from Go Forth to help with flooding, their shop front improvements, their ecommerce or to assist start-ups.
– The night-time economy is connected by a pubwatch committee, a network of digital networks and an incident crime reporting system provided by the BID
– A 50K project introducing technology to monitor each street’s footfall and vehicular traffic 24/7 has just completed

BID facts

BIDs across the British Isles represent 121,485 businesses and contribute £172 Million to their business communities.

BIDs may leverage additional monies from government, project funding and the like: Go Forth has leveraged an additional 300K in the past two years.

11 new BIDs are currently at development stage in Scotland. (53 across the UK).

A sign that the business community recognises the continued importance of BIDs and what they provide to the local trading environment!