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Lowestoft restaurant takes unusual step of offering customers food for free

Ashby's restaurant on Lowestoft High Street is set to be giving food away in a bid to increase business.

Staff member Laura Penning.

Ashby's restaurant on Lowestoft High Street is set to be giving food away in a bid to increase business. Staff member Laura Penning.

Few of us would expect to walk into a restaurant and be offered a plate of free food.

Ashby's restaurant on Lowestoft High Street is set to be giving food away in a bid to increase business.

Staff member Laura Penning.Ashby's restaurant on Lowestoft High Street is set to be giving food away in a bid to increase business. Staff member Laura Penning.

However that is exactly what is happening at one Lowestoft eatery as the recently-established Ashby’s restaurant aims to entice visitors to a less well-used part of the town.

The restaurant, which is a new venture from the Bakkavor food producer group, opened in Lowestoft High Street last summer but has not benefited from the same level of footfall as coffee shops and restaurants in the main town centre.

So in a bid to “raise awareness” of the business, staff have taken the unusual step of giving customers food for no cost at all so they can try out the menu and see the other services Ashby’s has to offer.

The hope, of course, is that people will enjoy their free dishes so much that they return to Ashby’s again and again - but project manager Shaun Sleight said it had caused some slightly surprised reactions from customers.

“It’s basically about raising awareness of Ashby’s because we are slightly out of town,” he said.

“The feedback we’ve had from people is that they haven’t been aware of Ashby’s but when they come they really enjoy the experience, so we thought this was a way we could show what we’re about.

“In life in general people are sceptical about things being for free. People have come saying: ‘What can we have for free?’ and we still get people coming in saying they want something off the main menu, which is quite surprising.

“We’ve had people coming in for breakfast and then coming in and later to have a meal and paying, as well as who put money in the tip box for staff.

“There’s still an element that people can’t understand the concept of free food and want to give a token gesture.”

Ashby’s has been holding another free food week this week after holding its first one in February.

Mr Sleight said footfall to the restaurant increased two-fold in the first free food week and that sales have seen a two-fold increase afterwards.

Have you got a business story? Tell The Journal by calling 01502 525825 or email lowestoft.journal@archant.co.uk

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