Eat Out to Help Out: The month Suffolk ate out on lobster and fillet steak
- Credit: HM TREASURY
More than 500 pubs, restaurants and cafes in Suffolk offered 50% off food and non-alcoholic drinks as part of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August.
The initiative gave customers a discount of up to £10 per head on their bills on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Among those that participated in Suffolk were all of Adnams’ managed properties and around half of their tenanted pubs.
Nick Attfield, director of properties at the Southwold Brewery, said: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s been a big success for us.
“I think it’s been enormously enjoyed by all of our customers – certainly at the beginning of the scheme, people weren’t expecting it but were delighted to get it.
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“What we found is that it encouraged people to have a little bit more or to have something more expensive from the menu.
“Lobsters and fillet steak: the sort of things you would put normally reserve for your Friday and Saturday menus were put on the menu at the beginning of the week as well.
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“People might have an extra bottle of wine or they’d have three courses instead of two courses.
“It was a great short-term stimulus.”
But Mr Attfield hopes that the government scheme will have a longer-term effect in convincing people that pubs and restaurants are safe places to be.
“One of my reasons for doing the scheme was that I hoped and wanted it to encourage people that were a little bit nervous – a little bit worried – about coming out, to come and take a subsidised visit to see all the things that we’ve put in place to keep everyone safe.
“After the summer season, our pool of customers diminishes and changes. Perhaps to a slightly older, more nervous customer base.”
For other eateries the scheme has allowed them to go from opening only at the weekends to opening in the week as well.
The Duke of Marlborough in Somersham has been run by members of the community since 2016.
Usually it only opens at weekends. But Lucy Batchelor-Wylam, part of the committee that runs the pub, said the government scheme allowed it to open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well.
Mrs Batchelor-Wylam said: “The Eat Out to Help Out scheme proved to be a great boost to business.
“Our team of paid staff and volunteers have worked their socks off in August to open Tuesdays for afternoon teas, and Wednesdays nights for food theme nights, in addition to our weekend opening hours.
“Both sessions were booked out each week and were incredibly popular, as the marquee and gardens have proven the perfect outdoor setting to reassure people that it’s safe to venture out again.
“We’re going to try and continue opening Tuesday and Wednesday.
“All we can do is try, but we’re going to do our own offers of some kind to try and keep customers coming back but it probably won’t be quite the same.”