RESTAURANT owners have hailed the new Eat Out To Help Out offer a triumph, saying it has been a “fantastic” help in bringing customers back, writes Laurie Churchman.

The Government’s month-long discount scheme is designed to give the hospitality industry a boost following the coronavirus lockdown.

It runs until August 31 and the Government is encouraging everyone to take advantage of the deal at venues that have signed up.

Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this month, participating restaurants will offer 50 per cent off food and non-alcoholic drinks up to a total value of £10 per person.

Customers do not need a voucher to claim the deal and it can be used in conjunction with other offers and discounts.

There is no minimum spend but alcoholic drinks and service charges are excluded from the offer.

The Argus:

MasterChef star Kenny Tutt, who runs Pitch restaurant in Warwick Street, Worthing, has been delighted with the deal.

He said: “It’s been fantastic. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are like the new Saturday.

“And it’s had a big knock-on effect. We’ve started to go out and recruit new employees.

“It’s really good for the local community – everyone’s loved it so much.

“We were already offering our full menu with a complimentary glass of wine – but now, people can essentially get a three course meal with a glass of wine for £12.

“That’s not bad for a freshly cooked meal and a nice French wine.

“It’s almost as cheap as a McDonald’s,” he laughed.

In June, Kenny set out his restaurant’s plans to reopen amid the coronavirus crisis. He said there would be temperature checks for staff, who would wear face masks and work in fixed teams.

He removed seating around the bar area, and the restaurant had to reduced the number of diners and stagger bookings.

At the time, Kenny said: “The worry is there will be a big whoosh of customers only for it to die down after.”

Now, he looks back with a grin.

“We were really nervous when we first started,” he said. “We didn’t know if people would start coming back.

“I appreciate there are a lot of people who aren’t able to come out – they may have medical reasons, they may be nervous themselves, and coronavirus is dangerous.

“But we’re following all the rules and doing everything we can to keep people safe.

“People are just so happy to be out and socialising.

“Talking on the web and over Zoom is all well and good, but it’s never going to be able to replace meeting up with family and friends for a drink and a catch up.”

Other restaurant owners are of a similar mind about the scheme.

Bruce Samandi, who runs La Piazza in Western Road, Hove, said: “It’s very kind of the Government – it’s been fantastic for us really.

“We’ve been very busy for the last three days – this has made a big difference.

“We’re usually struggling on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and I’m sure all the other restaurants have been too.

“But this has really helped, and I know other restaurateurs have been saying the same thing.

“We’ve been using our upstairs seating again.

“Every night this week it’s been completely full up.

“It’s been the same with our outside tables – it’s just been great.

“We’re not spending anything on the scheme – the Government is giving money away and we’re able to serve good quality food from our menu.

“Thank you Boris,” he added.

Earlier this week, Bruce told The Argus he had already been taking bookings from diners keen to take advantage of the scheme.

He said: “A lot of people keep asking us about the deal and if we’re taking part.

“We’re an independent restaurant and we get a lot of locals in here who say they are glad we’re back.

“It’s so nice to see them again.”

Mr Samandi said reopening after lockdown has not been easy and some customers failed to turn up for bookings.

He added: “We had a few issues to begin with when we reopened so we’re taking deposits now.

“We’re getting there though – weekends are getting busier with this nice weather.”

The Argus:

Tanjit Calais, who owns the Bali Brasserie in First Avenue, Hove, was hopeful that the Eat Out To Help Out scheme would help business when he spoke to The Argus earlier this week.

“I think it is quite a generous deal,” he said.

“A family of six could potentially get £60 off their bill.

“Of course we are a restaurant which always had live music and karaoke and the bar is crying out for people to be here dancing again, but it is a new world now.”

Jorge Rodriguez, the manager of Erbe, a new Italian restaurant in Rottingdean, said: “We absolutely think this offer will help us get going.

“It’s a wonderful promotion.”