The Eat Out Help Out scheme has proved deliciously tempting to diners across Wearside.
The new incentive, to give the restaurant industry a much-needed boost after lockdown, allows people to dine with a 50 per cent discount on Mondays to Wednesday, with the Government making up the difference.
Here, Wear Business asks the hospitality trade how they have benefited from the scheme – and if there are any pitfalls or improvements.
Andy Golding, operations director at Sunderland bars including Ttonic and Chaplins, Sunderland
Things are looking really vibrant on the high street and this seems to be really giving people the incentive to dine out.
We can see an uplift in footfall and we’ve had lots of enquiries about the food we offer, which in itself is fabulous.
Social distancing and table service have been very well received so things are a lot more positive.
It’s great to be welcoming back old customers and also to find that we’re attracting new people who are interested in what we have to offer.
Ian Wong, Asiana Fusion Restaurant, Sunderland
This has been super popular and we are booked up every single night that the offer is available, which is great news.
Our only hope now is that it’s not too difficult a process to get the money back from the Government. At the moment it seems fairly straightforward as long as you register prior to starting. We submitted ours yesterday for last week and it seems quite straight forward.
Since it started it has been absolutely fantastic, the first three days of the week have been like a Saturday night. Yes we may lose out on a Friday night but the weekend crowd will still come out nonetheless.
It has been fantastic seeing our regular customers and also new faces. You always get new faces with schemes like this and it is just nice to see people out again.
Doreen Chan, consultant for The Other Group which includes The Food Pit and Riverwalk, Durham
The timing of the Eat Out campaign was perfect for the Food Pit as we reopened at around the same time and it really worked in our favour.
As the scheme coincided with the reopening of the Food Pit, it worked really well because it gave people an extra incentive to come into Durham and visit us and it has definitely brought a lot of customers.
We spent a lot of time, effort and resources over a number of weeks getting the Food Pit ready and safe for the reopening and it was fantastic to see so many people coming to visit so all that hard work was not wasted.
The scheme was a brilliant idea and it has worked so well and, even though it was delivered really quickly, it has actually been quite straight-forward. I am just hoping the procedure to reclaim the money back will be simple too.
Jonathan Graham, director Tavistock including Roker Hotel, Poetic License, Italian Farmhouse, Coxhoe and West Rainton
It has been phenomenal. It has brought so many people out to eat, people who haven’t eaten out In our restaurants before who have been enticed by the scheme.
It has given a lot of customers the confidence in venues who are adhering to social distancing guidelines and making sure they are safe.
We are fortunate, particularly at Roker, that we have huge outdoor areas which we have been able to maximise.
I do think we are going to see a bump when kids go back to school and furlough ends and we will be looking to put together a number of strong offers to encourage people to eat out and continue to feel comfortable.
John Dickman, Port of Call at Park Lane
We have been busy since we opened the doors again four weeks ago and we’ve already been having a steady stream of customers who have been more than happy to adapt to the new measures we’ve put in place.
Since the Eat Out Help Out scheme launched it has been completely manic, with people happy to wait for as long as an hour to get a table.
We are having to go and restock on supplies every single day to try and keep up with the demand, but nobody is complaining about that.
After the terrible few months the industry has had, this is just the boost we needed. It’s a fantastic scheme.
Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID
The scheme was helping the city centre restaurants get back on their feet. It’s brilliant news not only that some many cafes, bars and restaurants signed up but that they are having such an incredible response.
It is giving the hospitality industry a much needed boost and also hopefully the incentive for people to try somewhere they may not have been before.
We hope that everyone that is dining out in August under this scheme will also remember to continue to support our fantastic restaurant scene in the future, as it such a vital part of our city centre economy.
Sandra Devlin, sales and marketing manager George Washington Hotel, Usworth, Washington
I think a lot of people were sceptical about the Eat Out to Help Out scheme when the Chancellor announced it – it felt a bit like a gimmick.
But the effective appears to have been massive for the restaurant industry. Our Carter & Fitch restaurant has been a major beneficiary.
We’ve averaged over 100 orders a day so far this month, purely down to the scheme and as well as bringing in much-need business into the hotel, it is helping to get the message across to an understandably wary public that you can safely come out and have a lovely restaurant meal with your friends and family and feel safe doing so.