The Lowdown: Eat Out to Help Out

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

The Lowdown: Eat Out to Help Out

Related tags: Restaurant, Government, Coronavirus

Next week sees the launch of the Chancellor’s month-long Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which it hopes will lure diners back into restaurants.

Eat Out to Help Out you say… didn’t have the Chancellor down as being such a cunning lingui…
Yes, yes very funny; we’ve all heard the jokes. Can we try to be adults, please?

Fine. What’s this all about then?
Next month the Government is running an Eat Out to Help Out scheme, designed to give the hospitality sector a jump start following the Coronavirus lockdown. Restaurants, bars and cafes that sign up to the scheme will be able to offer a 50% reduction, up to a maximum value of £10 per person, to all dine in customers on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August. Customers do not need a voucher or anything, participating establishments can simply deduct the discount from the bill, and then reclaim the discounted amount directly from the Government using an online portal.

Wow, certainly sounds like a good initiative, has it proved popular with restaurateurs?
Absolutely. Earlier this week the HMRC announced that more than 53,000 restaurants across the UK had signed up to take part in the scheme so far. They will all receive a window sticker to show they are using the scheme, and will also be listed on an online Eat Out to Help Out restaurant finder.

So what kind of restaurants have signed up?
Most big name fast food and casual dining chains have joined the scheme, including the likes of  Nando’s and McDonald’s. Being able to offer their menus at such a significantly reduced cost is guaranteed to be appealing to diners. In Nando’s, for example, a quarter chicken with two sides, which would usually be priced at £7.75, will now only cost £3.38; and in McDonald’s, a medium Big Mac meal with fries and drink included will now cost just £2.30, rather than £4.59. Indeed, with so many restaurants vying for custom, many have chosen to either extend or expand the discount available. The Whitbread group, for example, which owns brands like Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, has removed the £10 cap, meaning guests will get 50% off the entire food bill; while the Hard Rock Cafe, which operates three UK sites across London and Edinburgh, has extended the discount offer to include also Thursday and Fridays. 

How about if I want to dine in somewhere, say, a little more sophisticated?
Absolutely, it isn’t just the chains that have joined the scheme, plenty of fantastic independent restaurants have too; and again, many have added further to the offer in the hope of convincing more customers to come out and support them. Take Smokestak, David Carter’s barbecue street-food concept, where with the discount you’ll be able to get a three-course meal and side for exactly a tenner; and Hawksmoor, where you’ll be able to get steak and chips for £10 with the discount - an offer that has proved particularly popular, with the high-end steak chain receiving more than 6,000 reservation requests. Then there’s Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred London restaurant Social Eating House, which will be offering a two-course set lunch menu that’ll cost just £12 with the discount, which is pretty bloody good value. Finally, swanky restaurant group D&D London is putting on special Eat Out to Help Out set menus at all its reopened establishments, costing between £15 and £30 with the discount, depending on the venue. 

What about if I’m outside of London?
Fear not, there are plenty of places across the country embracing the initiative. Particularly high-profile places outside of London that have signed up to the scheme include Stosie Madi’s Parker’s Arms gastropub in Lancashire; and Tom Kerridge’s two-Michelin starred The Hand & Flowers in Marlow.

Wow, I better get booking
You do that. If you want to find out which restaurants near you have signed up to the scheme, click here​. And if you’re a restaurateur that wants to sign up to the initiative but hasn’t yet, fear not, there’s still time. For more information, and to register your business, click here​. 

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