'We're really worried - September and October are always a tricky period in hospitality'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 24th August 2020

As of last week, 35 million meals had been claimed under the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme. 

Set to end next Monday, has the government's incentive programme been a success, a nudge in the right direction, or have the rewards fallen short of expectations?

A much-needed boost

Appearing on Nick Ferrari's LBC morning show, UK Hospitality leader Kate Nicholls called for an extension of the scheme to support the hospitality industry through the difficult autumn months. 

She said: “The benefit to consumers, the importance to businesses shows the need to continue it for another month to get the remaining 50 per cent of restaurants and pubs reopen and successfully trading.

It’s been hugely important to the sector. Restaurants have been able to bring back staff off furlough and crucially it’s benefited trade through the whole week.”

Some operators have chosen to extend the scheme to encourage diners out - Adam Handling is doubling the discount to a maximum of £20 per person at his Frog restaurant in Covent Garden, Cyrus Todiwala of London's Cafe Spice is extending the scheme until October, as are restaurant groups Gaucho and Brindisa

Chef Pip Lacey, whose King's Cross restaurant has seen a surge in bookings thanks to the scheme, expressed regret that it would be ending at the end of the month. 

“We would like them to carry it on, 100 per cent. It’s the only way to survive at the moment.

“We're really worried. September and October are always a tricky period in hospitality – it’s not summer anymore, but it isn’t Christmas yet.

“If the weather’s bad, we lose half our restaurant. EOTHO has been such a success so we really hope it carries on. If the government doesn’t come through, we’ll need to really think about how we’ll operate.

unexpected side-effects

However, others have mixed feelings about the programme - such as Selin Kiazim, who said that rather than increase bookings at her restaurant, Oklava, it simply meant that the busy period shifted from the end of the week to the beginning. 

Meanwhile, Simon Hulstone said he has received calls from people threatening to never dine at his Michelin-starred restaurant in Torquay again they weren't able to book a table and take part in the scheme. 

"We're getting hit with a load of discount-seekers who wouldn't normally dine with us," he said.

"Some of them are becoming quite abusive and horrible." 

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

What are your thoughts? Would you like to see the scheme extended or would you rather the government help out in another way? Share your story in the comments section below!

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 24th August 2020

'We're really worried - September and October are always a tricky period in hospitality'