What’s the story? Food and drink glory in Banbury

I am a foodie. There I said it. Ever since I can remember I have had a love for food and drink. I like to cook it, eat it and yes I am “one of those people” who photograph it.

Food is so much more than food. It can unite and strengthen bonds, bringing people closer together. Food, like life, should be a celebration.
 
Banbury, a market town just north of Oxfordshire, is where I call home and it is a great place to visit for those who enjoy food and drink as much as me.
 
A town steeped in history, Banbury is known for its Cross, canal, market and Banbury Cakes - a delicacy much like an Eccles Cake but better, in my opinion.


 

If you visit Banbury, you will be greeted by the smells of coffee, bread and chocolate. Let’s just say Banbury is my kind of town -  a real food and drink paradise.
 
You probably know the nursery rhyme ‘Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross’. But did you know Banbury is now the national centre for food and drink provenance? Certainly, a major coup for our historic market town.


 

So, when I was asked to attend the recent opening of Lock29, the home of this brand-new centralised food and drink hub, the foodie in me graciously accepted.
 
Whilst the lure of discovering new food and drink places near me whet my appetite, it was Lock29’s WHY that proved the cherry on the cake for a marketing consultant like me.
 
When us marketing folk talk about your WHY - a term popularised by author and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek in his first TED Talk 2009, we mean the thing that makes you or your company/brand different from the competition - your reason for being if you will.
 
Let’s park the fact this place is home to some incredible locally sourced produce for a minute and focus on what Lock29 is really all about, as - this is the bit that truly excites me.
 
Future proofing Banbury’s high street,  not saving it
 
Banbury is conveniently located off the M40, Junction 11, making it easy to get to. But why should people come to Banbury? Why should they care?
 
The town’s convenience is also its achilles heel. Banbury is within 60 minutes, give or take, of some big shopping and tourist destinations.
 
Bicester Village, owns the luxury goods and designer shopping market. Westgate Oxford is home to prestigious global brands and offers sophisticated rooftop bars and dining.
 
Then, you have historic Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon and Royal Leamington Spa, one of the most sought after commuter towns.
 
It is fair to say that Banbury has tough competition.
 
Could Lock29 be a central figure in our town’s story of food and drink glory, exciting shoppers and visitors to reconsider Banbury?
 
We need to stop trying to ‘save the high street’ and instead look for ways to future proof it. This is what lies behind the WHY of Lock29 and the Castle Quay Waterfront development.
 
Lock29 is part of our local authority’s plans to change the retail doom and gloom narrative and galvanise Banbury high street. It is invested  heavily in Banbury’s future.
 
Do you want to know where your food comes from?
 
Lock29 is situated on Lock 29 of the Oxford Canal in the heart of Banbury, Oxfordshire. You will find it Lock29 in Castle Quay Shopping Centre - if you are local, think the old BHS building.
 
The venture is aims to be “a unique destination that aims to bring Banbury town’s history into an exciting new venue, focusing on an experience like no other”.
 
Everything from the venue’s branding to fixtures and fittings is screams cool, edgy and exciting. Certainly, opening day was vibrant and full of social distanced foodies like me.
 
Now, as I have gotten older I have become more concerned about where I shop and in particular where my food comes from. Lock29 is perfect for those mindful consumers who place an importance on knowing where their food comes from.
 
Its food and drink partner is Happerly England. Mobile happy shoppers can use QR technology to discover the journey of the food and drink before they buy!
 
Supporting Banbury’s independent businesses
 
One of the best things about Lock29 for me is seeing the eclectic mix of independent businesses.
 
Now is the time to support local. They provide so much more than simply what they sell and you’ll get a more personal service when you buy.
 
At Lock29 you’ll find a butcher, a baker, homemade fudge, artisan pizza, handcrafted pies, not to mention beer courtesy of Hook Norton Brewery.
 
Coffee addicts and lovers of fresh, pressed juice will be thrilled to find Rustic Bean Juice’d, an extension of Banbury’s popular coffee house, The Rustic Bean of Parsons Street. The coffee, as always, was a huge hit for me and my boys are fans of the kids’ juice options.


 

Vegans, vegetarians and the V-curious, as well as those who are gluten free or allergic to dairy, are well catered for thanks to an offshoot of Tom’s Diner, Banbury’s first 100% plant based cafe.
 
It would be fair to say that on opening day I spent a small fortune and left with a full tum.
 
So, if you’re serious about food and drink, or want to catch up with family and friends, then a visit to Lock29 is simply a must. I for one will be a frequent visitor and I'm looking forward to seeing how it embeds itself into the Banbury community.

Byline: Guest Blogger: Lisa-Marie Mallier / 7th September 2020
 

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