'Very bizarre behaviour'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

Two weeks after the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced the Eat Out to Help Out scheme to encourage diners back out to restaurants by subsidising part of the cost of meals, reviews have been mixed. 

While some have called it a success, others have seen their bookings switch to look like a "reverse weekend," flooding in early on in the week and slowing down at the weekend. 

There has also been speculation as to whether the scheme would be better off later in the year - when diners are less eager to eat out. 

Michelin-starred chef patron of The Elephant in Torquay Simon Hulstone has reported receiving "so much hate" for being full early on in the week, saying he and the team had witnessed "very bizarre behaviour" on customers' part. 

In a Tweet, he said customers were "even threatening to never eat with us again unless they can get £10 off other days." 

Having put strict measures in place to safely comply with the government's Covid-19 guidelines, the chef added: "We are operating with 30% less covers, we would love to do more guests."

In an interview with The Staff Canteen, he explained that for them, the EOTHO discount is "rewarding regular guests that have booked in in advance with a nice discount." 

"But then we're getting hit with a load of discount-seekers who wouldn't normally dine with us," who, he said "are becoming quite abusive and horrible." 

"It's a bit of a shame really, because it really does benefit everybody, but once we're full we're full." 

"We're not trying to make more money than we need to make. We're happy to have a nice full restaurant with 40 happy guests." 

"The general consensus seems to be 'you should want more money, you should be busier, you should be taking our money.' Mh, not really. We're full. We're happy. That's it." 

For city restaurants, the scheme "is fantastic" he said, as they are struggling with the lack of workers, "but for us it's the wrong time of year." 

"I think the strangest thing was to allow it to go to all the fast food establishments. It's already cheap and they've opened throughout the close-down anyway. I really think it should have stayed to independents with a maximum of 3-5 establishments, so it wasn't hitting the franchises and everything." 

"For us - it's worked and it hasn't - we're not losing money but we're working a lot harder for it. The phone is going crazy with guests trying to book in on EOTHO days, but we can't have them, and we don't have any other days to offer." 

Asked whether the scheme was leading to more rude custom, he said: "To be honest our guests are lovely apart from the few no-shows. It’s the ones now trying to book when we are full getting arsey.

"They honestly believe they are helping us out and don’t understand why we can’t accommodate them."

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 18th August 2020

'Very bizarre behaviour'