THE team behind Helensburgh’s first food festival have renewed their call for businesses to get involved with the organisation of the 2018 event.

Roger Ferdinand and Nigel Millar intend to run A Taste of Helensburgh again but with a “better focus and a central theme” following feedback from this year’s event.

Twenty venues in Helensburgh took part in the five-day festival which aimed to provide a marketing platform for business to come together to promote themselves and attract more visitors to the town.

Feedback from participants has been mostly positive - though one prominent participant in this year’s event believes more needs to be done if they want the event to become a success.

Melanie Andrews, owner of Craigard Tearoom, who organised a Bake Off event for the festival, said: “My customers and most retailers I spoke to were confused as to what the ‘festival’ was actually advertising.

“Most turned up to see a ‘festival’ atmosphere and the town was dead as usual.

“The organisers had no knowledge or interest in catering or eateries or even the hospitality industry. This was the first and biggest error in my view. In my opinion it needs energised hospitality leaders still in the business to lead an event such as this one.”

Mr Millar and Mr Ferdinand agreed that the use of the word ‘festival’ may have led some people to expect activities in Colquhoun Square.

In a joint statement they said: “All the marketing and press releases made it clear that the restaurants and cafes were the locations.

“Thankfully, it was an indoor event as it rained every day throughout the period of the festival.”

Although organisers have some advice to take on board, and some changes to make, they are intending that A Taste of Helensburgh will become an ongoing initiative for the town.

One participant who was delighted with the event and believes it will become something positive for the area was Paul Joseph from PJ’s Kitchen.

Paul told the Advertiser: “A Taste of Helensburgh was hugely successful, I saw an upturn in business particularly from tourists who had heard about the event. It is a super idea. There was no competition, and it celebrated the diversity and success of the restaurants in the town.”

“We did really well and it coincided with us going to number one on Trip Advisor.

"Onwards and upwards and I hope it continues next year.

“A Taste of Helensburgh is a first step in something that will be hugely positive for Helensburgh.”

La Barca, owned by Milan and Cara Nikolic, put on live music to entertain their customers on Thursday, August 17. Latin American Band El Sobroso saw the restaurant “packed".

Cara said: "It was exceptionally busy for a Thursday night, with takings up 33 per cent that night on the same night the previous year.

“There was a great atmosphere and we thought it was a fun way to mark the festival.

"A lot of our customers said they really enjoyed the music and we should do it more often so hopefully we will.”

Other business that participated in the event were Annayas, Cattle and Creel, Coffee Club, Commodore Hotel, Deli on the Square, Gingerbread Man, Humbles, Mackintosh Club, Mandarin Cantonese, Masala Twist, Mira Mare, Padrone, Ruby, Sugar Boat, Terrace Coffee House and The Wee Kelpie.

Event organisers are already working on plans for 2018 to maintain awareness of and enhance the town’s reputation for food excellence.

Mr Millar added: “With feedback to A Taste of Helensburgh generally supportive it will be back in the summer of 2018, but better, as lessons have been learned.

"Our restaurant and cafe owners will be brought in earlier to give them much greater ownership and control of the event.

“It will have a clear, consistent message. And who knows, there could well be something put on before then.”