A TOWN entrepreneur who set an intercontinental challenge seven years ago has reached a milestone.
Hartlepool restaurateur Krimo Bouabda issued a challenge in 2007 to travellers to find places that share the name of his business, the Portofino restaurant at the marina, and send him postcards from the namesake locations.
Since then his mailbag has been bursting with postcards from places from Crete to Cockermouth and from Sharm el Sheik to Singapore.
And seven years on, he has just received his 200th card – from Diane Tose in New Jersey, USA, of a Portofino restaurant in New York.
Krimo, who has owned the restaurant for 17 years and also runs Krimo’s, which will close later this year, and Casa del Mar, said: “It’s chock-a-block in the lobby with postcards now, three of four walls are covered.
The challenge began after a hoax card gave him the idea.
But since then he has received responses from Hawaii, Adelaide, Grand Cayman and Tenerife.
Others have sent in postcards from Minorca, Rio de Janeiro, Grenada and Fort Lauderdale in the USA.
Further replies flooded in from places including the Phillipines, Marrakech in Morocco, Singapore, Perth in Australia and 64th Street in New York.
But it’s not just restaurants which share the Portofino name.
A seaside resort in the Phillipines and even a boat in the Lake District bear the name.
The Portofino Challenge was born in 1998 when Mr Bouabda received a postcard from the mayor of Portofino, in Italy,which turned out to really be a friend on holiday playing a practical joke.
Senders are rewarded with a bottle of wine.
“It’s nice that people think about us,” he said.
“It’s nice to hear there are Portofinos all over.”
But Krimo says the challenge is far from over – he still hasn’t received postcards from any Portofinos in Russia.
“I doubt very much we will find one,” he said.