The Devon and Dorset-based seafood restaurant group has now reopened all nine sites in its UK estate, having adopted a phased approach.
According to the group, sales in some sites are already equal to last year and overall like-for-like sales are currently only 7% below last summer’s trading, despite social distancing measures reducing the number of covers in every restaurant.
Like-for-like takeaway sales are up 40%, as the South West sees an influx of visitors opting to holiday in the UK rather than abroad this summer.
It adds that the Chancellor's Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been widely used, and the group saw 75% of covers across the group, equating to around 20,000 people, booked up for August on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesdays within two days of announcing the scheme to its customer database.
“I’m astounded by both the guest feedback and the numbers for our first month since reopening," says Tonks.
"We knew that staycations and the coast would be a massive draw as the summer arrived but there were too many unknowns and variables to accurately predict customer behaviour.
"Our absolute focus has been on protecting our staff and our business and coming out of this thriving.
"We have put a lot of work into making sure everyone feels reassured, comfortable and really happy to come to our restaurants.
"Our videos walking people round some of our restaurants and showing them what we are actually doing have been talked about by guests and by industry extensively.
"People have liked being able to trust that we have the Covid security covered but not at the expense of hospitality, restraints can still be fun and safe without the expense of either which is a fine balance to achieve.
"Our exec team has talked daily throughout the lockdown and analysed every aspect of the business so that on reopening we were in as good a position as we could be.
"There will be plenty of challenges ahead, we are not in a bubble and have a long winter ahead but we remain optimistic about people wanting to eat fresh fish by the sea.
"I have an amazing team throughout the business who bring energy, commitment and real care to each other and their work. I think we are better and stronger than we were and, if we can quickly adapt to constant change, I believe the future can be navigated safely.”