There are many ways to explore the Scottish capital, but none quite so unique as the Bustourant – a bus that has been converted into a travelling restaurant offering wonderful tours of Edinburgh and the surrounding area as well as some delicious local cuisine.
Finding the right insurance quotes for such a niche vehicle can be a tall order, which is why the two owners, Aga and Martin, got their insurance from Quotax. Their unique requirements could be matched by no other insurance provider, making our partnership a match made in heaven.
Due to the quirkiness of the Bustourant, we wanted to know a little bit more about the team behind it. Luckily, Aga was more than glad to take the time out to tell us about the business she shares with Martin.
Tell us a little about your background. How did the Bustourant come to be?
Aga: I am originally from Poland. I came to the UK 12 years ago with no idea that I would one day end up running the only bus-come-restaurant in Edinburgh; I was originally working in a bank which, of course, has nothing to do with catering!
But that was where I met Martin, the self-described “flamboyant” Scottish man who always wanted to run his own business. We fell in love and eventually left the bank to pursue his dream. He’s always been full of ideas.
When we heard that there was an old bus just waiting to be converted, we jumped on the chance and the rest, as they say, is history.
Was it difficult to get the bus? How easy was it to convert into a travelling restaurant?
Aga: Not easy at all! We’ve had lots of fun doing it, though. Because the Bustourant is so niche, it was difficult getting all the paperwork sorted, especially insurance. Do we get a bus or restaurant license? There were so many legal obstacles to overcome.
That’s not even going into how hard it was to convert it. Martin did most of it, but of course, we needed help so we got a structural engineer on board who had over 20 years experience in health and safety solutions. thankfully, he had a passion for the unusual and quirky!
The whole process was very trial and error, but we’d do it all again because the end result was absolutely worth it.
Running a restaurant on wheels must present some pretty unique challenges! What kind of hurdles do you tend to encounter during normal service and how do you deal with them?
Aga: Mostly moving about. Everything on board the Bustourant must be secure and well-balanced otherwise there could be quite a few accidents, which is why we serve three courses at the same time.
Edinburgh is famous for its cobbles (and potholes), which is why our driver, Neil, does take care not to ride over them more than we have to. We care a lot about safety. This is why we have bespoke designed boards on every table to keep everything in place.
How did you come up with the name “Robert”? We saw you intend to take him to his home city in Glasgow. Do you plan to expand your business to other cities or add more busses to your fleet?
Aga: Actually, Robert used to run in Edinburgh before we got him. His “birthplace” is in Glasgow because that was where we were living at the time. He was actually named after Robert the Bruce, a famous Scottish king, which many Scottish people recognise as great play-on-words. Everyone knows who he is up here and it represents our aim to educate visitors from across the globe on Scottish history.
This is why we’ve got a highland cow painted on the side of our bus; it represents a strong part of the local culture and is a symbol of Scotland in general, as much as bagpipes are. As for expanding, we have talked about going to other cities in the UK, perhaps even Europe. For now, though, we like it where we are. Edinburgh has enough in it to keep us occupied.
What kind of topics do you talk about on the tour? Is it all about food or do you delve into the deep history of Edinburgh?
Aga: Our tours are quite laid back compared to other tours! We don’t stick to a script or stand at the front as we list off facts about landmarks. It’s much more of a conversation. If any of our guests have a question, we’d like to answer and have a chat about it.
This doesn’t have to be about Edinburgh, either. We have a whole bank of knowledge about Scotland’s history. We want to make everyone on board chilled out and relaxed, not to feel like they’re stuck in a dull lecture.
What key elements were you looking for when choosing an insurance agent? What made you choose Quotax?
Aga: When we first started, it was difficult finding the right insurance agent. At one time, we were dealing with several agencies at once. But, funnily enough, Quotax approached us with a deal as they fell in love with the concept of the Bustourant and specialise in providing insurance for niche/converted vehicles. They’ve been nothing but helpful since Day One and provide the cheapest insurance quotes out there.
Would you say Quotax has helped your business?
Aga: Definitely! Their customer service has been excellent. They were especially helpful for a first-time business. If you have a converted vehicle that is pretty niche, we highly recommend them.
If, like Aga and Martin, you have a niche vehicle you wish to insure, explore our page for more details.
Also, if you’re in Edinburgh and the Bustourant sounds like something you’d like to try, visit their website at www.bustourant.com to book your seat today!