Today (Monday) is the last day of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out Scheme, and estimates suggest up to 64 million meals have been claimed by diners throughout the UK.
The initiative has proved so popular that some chains and local independent restaurants have decided to continue the offer at their own cost.
The Eat Out initiative was introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, to encourage diners safely back out to restaurants that had been shut since 20 March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Over 100 hospitably venues across Bedford Borough took part in the scheme that offered a half-price discount up to a maximum of £10 per head from Mondays to Wednesdays throughout August.
In Bedford, the Pen and Cob Brasserie at the Swan Hotel, the FatCap Smokehouse, Thali + Tandoor and The Pantry are among restaurants that will be continuing special offers on Monday to Wednesdays.
Malcom Wyse, general manager of the Bedford Swan Hotel, said, “I’m really pleased we’re able to offer 50% off of all main courses Monday to Wednesday throughout September.
“The Eat Out to Help Out scheme was amazing for us, it really helped people have the confidence to come in and visit us again after a tough few months so we are keen to keep the momentum.”
Emma, joint owner at FatCap Smokehouse – who are continuing their offer every Wednesday in September – said, “As an independent Bedford-based family-run business we think it’s important to support the community and motivate people to continue to feel safe to venture out in these challenging times.
“It’s important for people to feel they can get back to some form of ‘normal’ if they wish and where better to do it than in a safe and controlled environment like a restaurant.
“We have inside and outside seating so as long as the weather stays fair you can choose to sit and eat alfresco.”
While many restaurants and cafes have been operating at full capacity from Monday to Wednesday, weekend trade at participating venues has suffered.
One Bedford restaurant served just four tables on the Friday of the bank holiday weekend, having been fully booked earlier in the week.
A Treasury estimate claims the scheme will cost the government £500m. Businesses have until the end of September to submit their claims.