To a know-nothing passer-by, it looks like the worst business idea in Harborough: a beautiful £500,000 high-end shop and cafe ... in the middle of nowhere.
But the award-winning Cafe Ventoux, just outside Tugby, north of Market Harborough, has hit on a trend - it’s packed every weekend with cyclists.
“To cyclists we’re not in the middle of nowhere” said enthusiastic director Brian Jordan. “We’ve got Route 64 right outside the front door.”
Long-distance Cycle Route 64 runs on minor roads from Market Harborough to Grantham, and then Lincoln.
And Cafe Ventoux, based in a well-turned out former chicken shed, has become a destination for cyclists from across the region using the route - and non-cyclists who want a good cafe with a pretty view.
The cafe - named after a mountain on the Tour de France - is also a top-end shop, an event venue, a ‘glampsite’, a bike studio, a fitness suite, and soon a base for a woman’s cycling team.
“Cycling is huge and growing year on year” said Brian, whose cafe won a “Best Cycle Cafe” award in an online vote run by a national events firm.
Brian said: “We wanted this cafe to welcome cyclists, and to have the wow factor. We wanted to create a buzz.”
“We attract cyclists of course” said fellow director and ex-Market Harborough girl Rosie Jordan. “But there’s a steady flow of loyal non-Lycra wearing people too.”
If everything works out, this could be the first Cafe Ventoux of many - all featuring the company ‘mascot’ - a distinctive red Fiat.
Statistics say the level of cycle traffic has been on the up each year since 2008.
Now 44 per cent of people over the age of five have access to or own some form of bicycle. And annual bicycle sales outstrip annual car sales in the UK by more than a million units.
“We thought the cycle cafe idea was a sound one” said Rosie.
“And we’ve been absolutely embraced by the cycling community, from families to team cyclists.”