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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
The Pike County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Pike County Bicentennial Committee, launched its Pike County Tenderloin Trail on Saturday, Sept. 4. The trail officially comes to a close on Sunday, Nov. 20.
Those wishing to “complete” the trail will have needed to eat at least nine tenderloin sandwiches from 12 participating restaurants. Participating restaurants are The Hook, Bainbridge Street Café, Copperhead Tavern, Atlas Café, Fat Boys, StageCoach Inn, Wattsup Café, Teddy’s Bar & Grill, Rumors Have It, Courtyard Café & Bakery, Riverbank Bar & Grill, and the Pleasant Hill Fast Stop.
The Pike County Tenderloin Trail was designed as a celebration of the iconic tenderloin sandwich and a recognition of the important place of pork production in Pike County history.
Of course, the primary goal of the Pike County Tenderloin Trail is to encourage business as Pike County Chamber of Commerce member restaurants. According to restaurateurs, Gina Johns, of Pleasant Hill’s StageCoach Inn and Hotel; and Pam Watts, of Nebo’s Wattsup Café, the trail drew new customers to Pike County businesses.
“I really think it’s amazing,” StageCoach Inn owner Gina Johns said. “We’ve had new customers in from as far away as near Jerseyville.”
According to Johns, local customers have also been eager to support the Tenderloin Trail.
“Our customers have really embraced it,” Johns said. “We’ve had nothing but great feedback.”
Johns said she believes customers are eager to support their communities and local businesses after the financial and psychological stress of the pandemic.
“It’s a great energy boost,” Johns said. “It’s a great way to bring businesses and people together. It gives people something to go out and tackle and feel good about.”
Pam Watts, owner of Nebo’s Wattsup Café, also said that the Tenderloin Trail has brought out-of-town customers to her establishment.
“I’m seeing some other customers,” Watts said. “The first people that came in for the trail were from Scott County.”
Both Johns and Watts said that the promotion has also encouraged the participating businesses to support one another.
“I plan to visit every other stop on the trail,” Johns said. “It’s a great way for restaurants to support other restaurants.”
Johns said she hopes that the success of the Tenderloin Trail leads to more county-wide promotions led by the Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m hoping, as a county, we can do more of this,” Johns said.
Similarly, Patty Ruble of Courtyard Café & Bakery said that she hopes more initiatives are planned by the Chamber and business owners that bring attention to towns and villages throughout Pike County.
“I think we should come up with more activities,” Ruble said. “The trail was great, because it brings attention to businesses in smaller communities that are off the beaten path. It’s gotten people to travel and go new places that they’ve never been to. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Participants who complete the trail are directed to leave their completed punch cards at the last restaurant they visit on the trail. Participants should leave their contact information on the back of the card. In order to qualify for prize drawings, participants should save their receipts.
For more information on the Tenderloin Trail or information about the Chamber of Commerce, call 217-285-2971 or email firstname.lastname@example.org