The campaign is the brainchild of the ‘Northamptonshire: Britain’s Best Surprise'. which has been backed by Earl Spencer, Reverend Richard Coles and restaurant critic William Sitwell.
In return for extra tourism the campaign is asking pubs, food producers, restaurants, cafes and hotels to sign up, and their customers will in turn receive new generous discounts. The organisers have set themselves a target of attracting 100 businesses.
Board member at Northamptonshire Surprise Rachel Mallows, said: “Northamptonshire is famous for its shoe heritage but the food and drink sector in the county is massive – and is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Northamptonshire Surprise is proud to be promoting a whole array of products and venues from all corners of the county, to show just how much we have to shout about.
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"In 2017 we promoted stately homes and in 2018 we promoted churches, and statistics show that visitor numbers increased to those venues so we know that the work we do really does promote our county to tourists – and residents. We have so much to celebrate, from cheese to wine, cosy tearooms to fine dining and much more in between. We ask that locals ‘support local’ and help us to spread the word.
“This is a great opportunity for local residents to support local food and drink establishments and gain a reward for doing so. We are thrilled with the response from the businesses so far and look forward to enjoying the treats from around the county.”
The card allows each business to choose what they would like to give away. Among those businesses signed up to the scheme is "British tapas" restaurant Bread and Pullet in Wellingborough Road, Northampton. It is offering its customers 10 per cent off the bill total between Tuesday - Thursday evening, and on Friday and Saturday lunch times.
Jennie Bowmaker, owner and head chef at Bread and Pullet, said the scheme is only going to strengthen Northamptonshire's claim as a food and drink county.
She said: "I think Northampton has a bit of a bad rep at the moment and initiatives like this highlight so many great local suppliers, producers and independent businesses that it sort of brings them to the forefront. The offers will entice customers in and hopefully they'll come back and we'll get a bit of repeat custom.
"I don't think people realise how many independent businesses there are and they do need a bit of help and a bit of a push once in a while."
Apothocoffee, in Earls Barton, has signed up too. The coffee shop is giving their customers a surprise monthly treat if they each spend over £20 in the gift shop or cafe. The gift could be either a free Phipps gin and tonic or a free Jeylato's ice cream Sundae. This offer will change every month.
Georgina Jeyes said: "We are delighted to be part of the loyalty scheme and hope it will attract new and existing customers to the county they all love.
"In 1984, author Anthony Burton had written 'Northamptonshire is a much underrated county. It is a pleasure to find its villages, built of rich, warm ironstone are largely unspoilt. It is like finding the Cotswolds with no crowds'.
"Twenty-five years later Northamptonshire is celebrating what we have to offer - not only in buildings and churches, but locally produced food and drink."
The loyalty card is free of charge both to businesses and their customers and can be picked up at participating venues, which include:
Water Mill Tearooms in Ringstead
Bread and Circus in Daventry
Sheaf Street Healthstore in Daventry
Apothacoffee in Jeyes Earls Barton
Gin and Temple in Northampton
The Palmichael in Kettering
Bread and Pullet in Northampton
Friars Farm in Northampton
Northamptonshire Smokehouse in Northampton
Wharf Distillery in Towcester
Drink Shed in Towcester
Witch and Sow in Guilsborough
Albion Brewery Bar in Northampton
Voujon in Long Buckby
Pastures Poultry Farm Shop and Cafe in Yardley Hastings
Businesses sign up by emailing: [email protected]