NEW Norwich & Norfolk Eating Out campaign 2014-15 – NOW open for entries – deadline 4 July – contact @VisitNorwich

Will your business feature in #VisitNorwich’s NEW Eating Out campaign?

You’ll have to act fast. The team at VisitNorwich is currently putting together its new EATING OUT in Norwich & Norfolk campaign for 2014-15 – but space is limited and the deadline for entries is just weeks away. So, if you want to promote your business to thousands of hungry residents and visitors, you need to act now.

The EATING OUT campaign is the easy way for cafés, pubs, bars and restaurants in Norwich and Norfolk to attract new customers. And it’s more than just a printed guide. The campaign package includes a listing for your business (including a link to your website) in VisitNorwich‘s comprehensive on-line Eat and Drink directory.

This directory is part of VisitNorwich’s extremely popular website, which receives over 100,000 page views every month and had over half a million visits in the last year. It also has a search facility that enables people to find just the food and drink they want.

Hurry – DEADLINE: Friday 4 July

VisitNorwich will print 65,000 copies of the 2014-15 edition of the Eating Out guide in July 2014 – so you only have until 4 July to secure your place. These handy pocket-sized (1/3rd A4 format) guides come with easy to use index and maps. You will also have the opportunity to include a 10% discount voucher (at no extra charge) to encourage more people to try your establishment.

The guides, which have a 12-month shelf life, will be distributed to accommodation providers, tourist attractions, visitor hotspots (such as Norwich’s train station and bus station), and tourist information centres (TICs) across the county, including the Norwich TIC in The Forum. They will also be given to conference delegates (including many who attend events at the UEA and the Norwich Research Park), language schools, coach parties and visiting journalists. Meanwhile, VisitNorwich will actively promote its website, including its Eat and Drink directory, throughout the year.

For more information (including costs) and to book your place in the Eating Out campaign, please contact Lisa Howard:



This is not a sponsored article. I volunteered to post it in my role as a Norfolk Food and Drink champion (see my earlier post about being an #NFDF2014 Champion). I hope it will be useful to readers who run food and drink related business.

Thank you for reading.

Discussing #NFDF2014 Norwich Restaurant Week in #NorwichLanes with @RafflesFood – over delicious Rapido lunch.

NFDF coloured logos

This year is the 10th anniversary of the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival and the organisers are determined to make it the biggest and best yet. The festival is already the largest in the UK – with volunteers running numerous events, both large and small, across the county from 30 August to 12 October. However, this year we want to do more in Norwich – which is where the festival started.

Among the many events being planned is the ever popular Battle of the Bangers, which last year attracted over 5,000 sausage lovers to taste the finest our local butchers have to offer. There will also be the City Farm and a Norfolk Producers market – all outside The Forum on Saturday 6 September. This will coincide with the final day of the reinvigorated Norwich Restaurant Week, which will run from 1-7 September and is being supported by Norwich BID and Norwich Lanes.

The current chair of the Norwich Lanes committee is Jayne Raffles. She and her husband Nigel have been running restaurants in Norwich for 24 years – and currently have three in the Norwich Lanes district: St Benedict’s, The Library and Pinocchio’s. I had the pleasure of meeting them both for a Rapido lunch in Pinocchio’s to discuss their plans for making the most of Norwich Restaurant Week.

Fresh fast food to savour

I have to admit to having a real soft-spot for Pinocchio’s. It’s the place we tend to go for family celebrations, including the day we moved back to Norfolk, the night (four years later) when we finally moved out of a rented house into our own home, as well as various birthdays and anniversaries. It reminds me of the family-run trattoria in Bologna we tried when we visited Italy – with good, honest food, prepared fresh every day.

Nigel, a talented chef who is responsible for the food in all three restaurants, uses local suppliers (such as Easters) and fresh seasonal produce wherever possible. “It’s important to provide great tasting food and great value food, if we are to compete with the big corporate chains. We make virtually all our bread at Pinocchio’s, particularly our pizza dough, although we use a specialist Italian supplier for the ciabatta because they make it using the traditional slow fermentation method.”


The ciabatta we had for lunch certainly tasted delicious, packed with chicken, mushrooms and pesto. As did the arancini, deep fried rice balls with chorizo and smoked mozzarella, and pin-wheels (rounds of bread) filled with a rich lamb ragu. Sadly I was driving, so had to pass on a glass of Moretti (my favourite Italian beer if you must know) but the homemade Sicilian lemonade was so deliciously refreshing I was slightly surprised the Famous Five didn’t arrive on their bikes with Timmy the dog just to knock back a jug or two.

Supporting cultural life in the city centre

As you would expect, Jayne and Nigel are also passionate about promoting local, independent restaurants. “It’s the independents who help keep Norwich special,” says Jayne. “They stop the city turning into just another clone town and they attract visitors who are vital to the local economy.”

This passion is reflected in Jane’s championing of the Norwich Lanes organisation, which promotes independent businesses in the city centre. As chair, Jane works closely with the Norwich Business Improvement District (Norwich BID) team, which has raised £3m to improve the look and feel of the city centre. Both organisations support special events in the city centre throughout the year.

The Lanes committee is organising four big events this year. The first was the successful revival of Jack Valentine in spring, with Norwich BID’s help. Next up, on 6 July, is the hugely popular Summer Fayre – which just gets bigger and better every year. Then in October the Lanes will support the 5th Sound & Vision festival at Norwich Arts Centre. And finally, the organisers are planning a late night open-shop/open-restaurant event for December (more on this nearer the time).

Meanwhile, Norwich BID will be laying on street entertainment every Thursday throughout the summer. The Head Out, Not Home campaign (which runs 12 June to 28 August) aims to encourage people to stay in the city after work and make the most of the long (and, we hope, sunny) summer evenings. To keep up to date with what’s on each week, follow #NorwichEvenings on twitter or download the BID’s ‘Discover Norwich’ app.

Norwich Restaurant Week

Both Jayne and Nigel see Norwich Restaurant Week as another great opportunity to attract people to the heart of our fine city and raise the profile of its independent food network. “We are trying to encourage all the restaurants, cafés and bars in the Lanes to take part and help make it a week to remember. The Food & Drink Festival and Norwich Restaurant Week in particular are vital to putting Norwich on the map as a modern food destination, not just an historic visitor attraction.”

Jayne and Nigel seem to thrive on being busy – so they are planning three events for the Food and Drink Festival. “We are going to have a Slow Food Festival in The Library (our restaurant on Guildhall Hill),” says Jayne. “The team behind the Aylsham Slow Food Festival (which is also an #NFDF2014 event) are helping to organise this and it will be like an indoor market celebrating the best in regional food.”

Nigel is organising an American pop-up barbecue in the Warings Store: “This will really appeal to people who love succulent burgers and other traditional American food,” he promises. Then, in the third week of September (not Restaurant Week but still during the festival) Jayne will be hosting a special #NFDF2014 event at City College. “Hopefully this will help inspire more students to pursue a career in catering.”

Celebrating our City of Literature’s heritage

Finally, as if all those events were not enough, Jayne and Nigel are planning an extra special event in November to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the reopening of The (Norwich Subscription) Library building in 1914 (after a devastating fire in 1898). This will run from 1-7 November and will involve The Bookhive, Jarrold, the Writers Centre, the UEA’s Writers’ Circle and the Blue Badge Guides. There will be children’s events on the Saturday (including pop-up bookstalls and storytelling) and authors’ evenings (including book signings) during the week.

Now that seems like a wonderful example of feeding the body and the mind – of which I suspect Epicurus would have strongly approved. It certainly works for me. Thank you Jayne and Nigel for an excellent lunch too.

Be a part of #NFDF2014

If you are interested in taking part in Norwich Restaurant Week, please post your details below and the organisers will get in touch with you.

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More info

If you have any questions or comments, or ideas for future posts, please feel free to post them under this blog or tweet them to me. I will do my best to reply. In future blogs I will talk more about the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival 2014 (see my earlier post about being an #NFDF2014 Champion) – and other food and drink events around the county – I hope you enjoy them.

Thank you for reading.

Join the #BuyLocalNorfolk movement and help support your community today.

Do you live and work in Norfolk? Would you like to see a more vibrant local economy, creating more jobs and greater opportunities to develop your own business? Then you are just the sort of person who should support the #BuyLocalNorfolk campaign whenever you shop, whether for home or business.

The #BuyLocalNorfolk campaign is about supporting your local community – your friends and neighbours. It’s about creating a sustainable economy, which reduces the use of fossil fuels and the pollution associated with long haul transport. And it’s about creating a vibrant jobs market, so people both young and old can find jobs close to their friends and family.

The campaign is run by Buy Local Norfolk, which is a not-for-profit social enterprise. Buy Local Norfolk supports members by providing networking and marketing opportunities for local businesses, so strengthening connections within our community. It also encourages people to use the power of the pound in their pocket to support local, independent businesses on the high street.

You can make a real difference

Too many towns across the UK have become clone towns – all stocked with the same national chains, selling the same mass-produced goods. Worse still, many towns have become ghost-towns, with stores abandoning high streets in favour of large out-of-town shopping malls. Norfolk is different – and Norfolk is lucky.

Many of Norfolk’s towns still have thriving centres – with independent shops, specialising in locally produced goods and providing traditional personal service. This is great for local people because it gives them more choice. It is also important for the £2.8bn tourism industry, which employs some 750,000 people, because the diversity and individuality of Norfolk’s towns and villages attracts visitors.

You can help preserve our region’s distinctive identity by supporting these businesses. In doing so, you will help keep your community special, your local economy buoyant and more people in work. All you have to do is spend more of your money with local businesses. This doesn’t take a major change in your shopping habits – just small adjustments here and there can make all the difference.

You could start by using a local baker, butcher, farm shop or market – or looking for a local supplier of birthday cards, accountancy services, garden supplies, gifts, furniture and fittings. Why buy something bland from a national chain when you could buy something special from a local craftsperson? Obviously price comes into it but many local businesses go out of their way to compete on both price and service – all you have to do is ask them.

Businesses support businesses
Buy Local Norfolk holds regular, free-to-attend networking events around the county, which give your business an excellent opportunity to create valuable connections with new buyers and suppliers. This can make your business more resilient by shortening your supply chain and increasing your speed to market. It is also a chance to forge lasting friendships with business leaders who can support you with their experience, local knowledge and contacts.

Joining Buy Local Norfolk is simple – all you have to do is show you are a ‘truly local’ Norfolk business. This unique accreditation process is not onerous – it simply checks that your business is substantially owned and run by people who live in Norfolk and who already use five local suppliers. Membership costs just £5 a month and brings a whole load of benefits – including a full-colour listing in the directory, 5,000 copies of which are printed and distributed to businesses twice a year.

Buy Local Norfolk has also built strong links with some of Norfolk’s council procurement teams – including providing an electronic directory of members to Norwich City Council. Your membership also gets you a free listing (including your logo, company description, contact details, location map, and link to your website) on the Buy Local Norfolk website – which gets some 14,000 views a month from people looking for local businesses who can meet their specific needs.

Buy Local Norfolk believes that, as a community, we are stronger together. The organisation already has the support of over 120 businesses, local Councillors, MPs and MEPs. And the Buy Local Norfolk brand is increasingly recognised by Norfolk residents, including over 7,000 twitter followers. Now it’s your turn to get involved and do your bit to build a brighter future for your business, while supporting your community and making Norfolk an even better place to live, work and play. Join here today.


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Keep in touch

If you have any questions or comments, or ideas for future posts, please feel free to post them under this blog or tweet them to me. I will do my best to reply. In future blogs I will talk more about the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival 2014 (see my earlier post about being an #NFDF2014 Champion) – and other food and drink events around the county – I hope you enjoy them.

Thank you for reading.

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