Increased footfall and ‘sense of normality’ – how Eat Out to Help Out helps businesses bounce back
PUBLISHED: 19:00 05 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:59 06 August 2020
Independent restaurants and cafes in Ipswich say they have been as busy as a Saturday since the Eat Out to Help Out offer began this week – with owners praising the “brilliant” scheme for bringing footfall back.
The government’s money off scheme, which is now coming to the end of its first week, sees prices of food bills slashed by 50% through August to help kick-start the hospitality industry – which has suffered huge losses as a result of the pandemic.
Many restaurants have been fully booked since Monday and owners say it is helping them get back some of the revenue they missed out on.
Our trip to Applaud
We paid a visit to award-winning cafe Applaud on Wednesday lunchtime, where we paid just over a fiver for a lunch, soft drink and a flapjack. Usually this would be more than £10.
The mozzarella, tomato and pesto in a toasted bagel was just £2.50, the elderflower sparkling drink was just £1.40 and the chocolate and pumpkin seed flapjack to finish off was reduced to £1.40 – bringing the total bill to £5.30, which was a real bargain.
The cafe boasts a peaceful garden to enjoy your food in and the staff were friendly, comfortable and most importantly, safe.
It felt great to be back out there supporting one of the town’s thriving independents.
MORE: Mapped – All the restaurants offering the Eat Out to Help Out scheme near you
So what do businesses make of the new scheme?
Hannah Harper, supervisor of Applaud cafe in Ipswich, said since the money-off scheme started the trade has been really similar to a Saturday.
She said: “It’s been really busy, but really good.
“We’ve been getting busier and busier anyway, especially opening up and having the garden. But there’s been a noticeable difference Monday to Wednesday.”
This is the first week that Applaud has gone back to its full menu, having eased itself in to reopening to make sure it could meet all the requirements and welcome customers back confidently.
She said: “It seems to be more than just a one-off and every day has just been getting busier and busier.
“I think more people are becoming aware of the government scheme and people are coming back day after day.”
Hannah said she thinks customers are still cautious, but there is a “desire for a little bit of normality”.
“When you come in here and you sit in the garden and get a coffee and cake, for a minute it feels like nothing has changed,” said Hannah.
She said the scheme has been positive for the business so far, and is interested to see what happens when it finishes.
She said: “I think the purpose of the scheme is to get people to feel comfortable to go out and start spending again.
“Hopefully at the end of the month it will still continue to some extent.”
Kie Humphreys owns the Coffee Cat, which has a cafe at Ipswich Waterfront and in the town hall.
He said the scheme has been brilliant and is really helping his business get back on its feet.
He said: “I can’t think of a different country that I would like to be in right now, as the government has really helped us keep our business intact.
“There has definitely been an increase in footfall, especially as Mondays to Wednesdays are usually our quieter days. It really is a generous scheme.”
Kie said the deal has been easy to administer and keep track of – adding it has really given the business “a boost”.
He said: “It’s helping us get back some of the revenue we missed due to lockdown, which is a huge benefit.
“It’s all been positive so far, especially with the consistent weather and the VAT reduction has been a massive help too.
“People seem to be eating out even more and it’s great to see so many new faces.”
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ipswich Star. Click the link in the orange box above for details.