Some Scottish restaurateurs have said they will keep offering Eat Out to Help Out discounts – even though funding for the scheme has come to an end.
They plan to pick up the tab themselves and continue the initiative during September to provide work for their staff as the industry enters a challenging period.
The UK government scheme offered diners 50% off sit-in meals, up to a limit of £10 per person, between Monday and Wednesday during August.
Some 84,000 outlets across the UK signed up, and the Treasury said more than 64 million meals were ordered during the first three weeks.
The scheme has now come to an end, but Innes Bolt is one of those who plans to continue offering the discounts during September.
The managing director of Montpeliers, Indigo Yard, Tigerlily and Rabble in Edinburgh said it was a risk he was willing to take.
He said: “I’m doing this to help our staff rather than the business.
“It is about protecting jobs and to do that we need to keep rotas full, which we can only do if we have customers.
“It is a risk to put this discount on to the business as there is no guarantee we will duplicate the August sales, but I want to keep the momentum going.
“We found this scheme to be a lot more positive than we had thought it would be, so we need to continue it. It will be a balancing act.”
Ash Bairstow, who owns The Herringbone bar and restaurants in Edinburgh and North Berwick, said he would absorb the costs of continuing the scheme.
He said the discounts had helped customers who had lost their jobs or were living on reduced wages.
“This scheme has been a real lifeline to a lot of restaurants,” he said.
“We are now entering the most challenging time of the pandemic. The next four to six months will be the hardest for the hospitality sector, so we need to keep the momentum going from this scheme.
“Its all about keeping our trade up so we can keep our staff hours up.”
Billy Lowe, who owns The Black Ivy in Edinburgh’s Bruntsfield area, said he was going to modify the offer – giving a 25% discount, but with no upper limit.
He said: “The scheme has been brilliant so we are now doing Keep Eating Out to Help Out.
“We have got to keep using our initiative to encourage people to keep eating out so they can support our businesses.
“We have been so appreciative of everyone who has been to our restaurant to support us. There was a significant uptake of the offer, so we want to keep encouraging more frequent visits.”
Kyles Dignall, owner of The Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh city centre, is also continuing the discount in September.
He said: “It is 10 times better to lose money than it is to shut down and have no shifts for the staff, so that’s why we are continuing with the scheme.
“I’m trying to be positive so it’s worth a try carrying on with the discount ourselves.”