Restaurant sector in London cheers boost from Eat Out to Help Out

Parts of the London restaurants sector have cheered the impact of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme which ended last night.

Firms welcomed trade in August that came via the discounting scheme, which last month offered people a discount of up to 50% on Mondays to Wednesdays on food and soft drinks in a participating restaurant, pub or cafe. A maximum of £10 discount per diner is available.

Renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi, who co-founded Ottolenghi in 2002, said the initiative brought people out to restaurants that may have not come otherwise.

Eat Out to Help Out was aimed at boosting the hospitality sector which was hammered by the coronavirus crisis.

Restaurants had to close in March for the lockdown here, and could only reopen from July 4, with social distancing measures in place.

Ottolenghi said: “August is normally our quietest month of the year and having the restaurants full Monday to Wednesday was a fantastic boost to staff’s morale. It also brought to people’s consciousness how fragile our industry is at the moment and how important it is to support it.”

He added: “I am feeling very cautiously confident that trade will improve further but it will take time. We are in for a rough time, especially in central London, but there’s a clear appetite to resume normal life, particularly the joy of going out and sharing meals with friends.”

Harsh Joshi, general manager of the Benares restaurant in Mayfair estimates diners bought more than 850 dishes using the Eat Out to Help Out discount. He said the scheme “has definitely encouraged more reservations and has helped to reinstate public confidence to dine out, which will be a key factor moving forward”.

Itsu saw over 50% more transactions during the Eat Out to Help Out period each week, without negatively impacting trade during the rest of the week.

A number of companies plan to implement their own version of Eat Out to Help Out in September.