Restaurants and pubs enjoyed a much-needed uplift in visitors this week as the prospect of a half price meal encouraged people out of their homes.
More than 73,000 restaurants have signed up to the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme which launched this week and gives customers a 50pc discount on their food bill when they dine in from Monday to Wednesday throughout August.
The Government funded initiative, which is capped at £10 per head, has already made a significant difference to booking levels at many restaurants.
“Demand has been incredible, we could probably have sold the table three times over,” Will Beckett, co-founder of steak chain Hawksmoor, says. “We’ve got around 15,500 bookings for the 13 days across August [when the scheme is running], so we’re really pleased with it.”
The boss of one major pub chain says he expects to see a double digit increase in bookings as a result of the scheme.
Mark Selby, co-founder of Wahaca, says restaurant covers during Monday to Wednesday, typically quiet days for the sector, are now 50 to 100pc higher than usual.
“I wasn’t sure how many people were going to take it up and so far there’s been a really positive pick up,” he says.
“For a lot of people, who haven’t eaten out since lockdown restrictions were eased, this has given them a reason to go out and given them some confidence.”
Such is the success of the scheme that some operators have chosen to foot at least some of the bill themselves. Supermarket Morrisons is extending the initiative at its cafes throughout the entire week and will subsidise the discount from Thursday to Sunday, while Whitbread has removed the £10 cap from its restaurants so diners will get a full 50pc discount, regardless of how much they spend.