According to restaurant reservations website Bookatable.com, the number of online reservations made at restaurant chains yesterday was up 25 per cent on the same day the previous week and bookings via its mobile app were up 23 per cent.
A spokesman for Jamie's Italian, which allows children to eat from the kids menu for free Monday to Friday before 5pm, said exact sales figures were not yet available but had received reports of 'huge' days at restaurants in Cardiff, Bath, Bristol, Bluewater and Westfield Stratford.
Chef Chris Rawlinson, owner of the Red Cat in Chorley, Lancashire, told BigHospitality via Twitter that the restaurant's 'mini-plates' had gone down well 'with kids with good taste'.
Latin American restaurant chain Las Iguanas also brought back its Kids Eat Free offer for the day in a bid to attract trade and had a busy day at its 25 sites according to marketing and brand manager Lucy Harwood.
She said: "It is hard for any parent to take time off work during this busy festive period to stay at home and entertain the kids, that’s why we brought back the Kids Eat Free offer on Wednesday to help families affected by the strike action. We were happy to see a great response to the offer as families flocked to our restaurants around the UK.”
Almost two thirds of schools were closed and another 14 per cent were partially closed on a day that saw tens of thousands of public sector workers across the country take part in rallies to demonstrate against proposed changes to pensions.
Robert Swerling, chief communications officer of Bookatable, the reservations website owned by Livebookings, which also gives access to a number of offers at both casual and fine dining restaurants, said: “We were impressed by the restaurant chains' quick reaction to the opportunity that the national day of striking created.
"The steep rise in booking levels at chain restaurants reflects the need for cash strapped families to find cheaper alternatives to entertain the kids."