Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis made his own pitch when he turned up in Gloucester city centre today to offer food to people on the Cross.
The 54-year-old was filming for The One Show with James and Becka Oram, the new owner’s of Hedley’s cafe, in Westgate Street.
But his appearance caused a frenzy on the Cross and people gathered around to catch a glimpse of the popular TV face and self-made millionaire who is behind firms such as stationery chain Ryman, lingerie shop La Senza and homeware specialist Robert Dyas.
He handed out free samples of Hedley’s food to help them with their market research. Under the glare of a TV camera, city centre visitors were asked what they thought of the grub.
VIDEO: Frenzy as Theo Pathitis comes to Gloucester
Cynthia Tyne, from Barton, munched on a chorizo wrap but she was more interested in meeting Theo. She said: “I’ve never met anyone famous before and I loved watching him on Dragons’ Den.
“It has made my day. I was only stood on the Cross waiting for someone so this was a bonus. The wrap was very good too.”
Theo took out some time out of his hectic filming schedule to chat to the Citizen. He said: “Gloucester looks lovely in the sunshine. I’m delighted to be here helping to put the city on the map.
“It is good to see so many people out today helping to put money into the shops.
“I’m just here doing a bit of market research. They are a small business and they have taken a risk by selling their house to invest in it with the hope of turning it into a national success.”
Theo, who left Dragons’ Den in 2012, will be returning in six months time to see how the couple have got on at the cafe.
VIDEO: Theo hands out food on the Cross
One onlooker who tried to get a glimpse of him said: “I tried to get a photo but being seven months pregnant I couldn’t catch him.”
Another said: “I can’t believe that’s Theo. He looks younger than on the telly. He seems like a really nice guy too.”
He posed for pictures with adoring fans and wandered freely around the Cross inviting people to sample the food.
Hedley’s is one of four businesses being featured on The One Show.
James, who took over the cafe in January, said: “It has been great to have Theo with us. He’s full of useful ideas.
“The good thing is that people seemed to like the food and they thought our cakes were well priced.”
James and his wife Becka say they have big plans for Hedley’s cafe.
Having moved from London and taken over the popular cafe in Westgate Street in January, the couple have already set their sights on expanding the business and opening up new branches across Gloucestershire.
James said: “We want to come to the country with our two children, Louise, who is seven, and Scarlet, who is 10, so this seemed like the perfect spot.
“We are really excited to have taken over the business.
“The tourists know how to find us but we are keen to show off the cafe to more people who are in Gloucester.
“Westgate Street has been hit lately with a few cafe closures which is unfortunate but we know that people do love an independent coffee shop.”
The business is also much more than just a shop front – they also run a catering and buffet department with a fleet of vehicles from a base in Brockworth.