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‘We can’t keep up’ - Business booming for cafés and pubs as customers Eat Out To Help Out

PUBLISHED: 06:57 06 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:17 06 August 2020

Aideen Summers, owner of The Lemon Tree café in Damgate Street, Wymondham. Picture: Daniel Moxon

Aideen Summers, owner of The Lemon Tree café in Damgate Street, Wymondham. Picture: Daniel Moxon

Archant

A government scheme to boost income for eateries has proven to be “a wonderful incentive” in its first week for cafés and pubs in a Norfolk market town.

The Lemon Tree café in Damgate Street, Wymondham. Picture: Daniel MoxonThe Lemon Tree café in Damgate Street, Wymondham. Picture: Daniel Moxon

Through the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, people visiting a participating venue on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, throughout August receive a discount of 50pc – up to £10 per person – keeping more money in their pockets and giving a vital boost to the UK’s hospitality sector.

Around 4,000 businesses in the east of England have signed up to take part in the scheme, with 10 in Wymondham.

After a difficult time during the height of lockdown, business owners in the town have hailed the scheme a success in its first week.

Tracey Hall, manager of The Hideout café in Fairland Street, described it as “a wonderful incentive” for customers.

Manager Tracey Hill, right, with staff member Georgina Ellwood at The Hideout café in Fairland Street, Wymondham. Picture: Daniel MoxonManager Tracey Hill, right, with staff member Georgina Ellwood at The Hideout café in Fairland Street, Wymondham. Picture: Daniel Moxon

One customer enjoyed his visit to the café on Wednesday morning so much that he returned shortly after leaving with a packet of ice lollies as a thank you gift for staff.

While Mrs Hall said the first week of the scheme had “gone really well”, she believes more could be done to raise awareness of the offer to customers.

“We’re still finding that several people are unaware of the deal, so it could probably be pushed more to help make the most of it while it’s here,” she said.

At The Lemon Tree café in Damgate Street, owner Aideen Summers said the offer had helped rebuild customer confidence.

Brendan Gray, owner of the Station Bistro at Wymondham Rail Station. Picture: Daniel MoxonBrendan Gray, owner of the Station Bistro at Wymondham Rail Station. Picture: Daniel Moxon

“Generally it has gone really well and people are really pleased about it,” she said.

“When we’re busy – and it does get really busy – taking that extra bit of information from customers can be a little time consuming, but once we’re used to it it will be alright.

“People are getting more confident. When we opened on July 4 people were a bit reticent to come in, but they’re getting more used to it now.”

At The Green Dragon in Church Street, confidence has certainly not been an issue for customers who have returned in their droves since the pub reopened.

This map may not include participating restaurants in larger chains

“Our phone is like a hotline,” said manager Moya Topsom. “The emails are going mad and the Facebook messages too. We can’t keep up half the time.

“It’s awesome, but very different as well at the moment. We’re only doing outside seating – you can go inside to use the toilet – and it’s all table service.

“[Eat Out To Help Out] has spread out the load a little more. Instead of everyone coming in just on the weekend, we’re now much more busy Monday to Wednesday too.

“We’re having to work hard but it’s good to get rid of the lockdown weight.”

Kieran Bullen and Caitlin Quinn, landlords of The White Hart in Market Street, Wymondham. Picture: Daniel MoxonKieran Bullen and Caitlin Quinn, landlords of The White Hart in Market Street, Wymondham. Picture: Daniel Moxon

For nearby pub the White Hart in Market Street, the deal isn’t as beneficial as it might have been.

Landlord Kieran Bullen made sure to sign up to the scheme, but they do not open on Mondays or Tuesday and so miss two of the three days that the offer is on.

Mr Bullen said: “I know a few places that don’t open on Mondays and Tuesdays normally that are doing so in August to take advantage, but we decided against it.

“For the sake of four weeks it would be confusing for customers and we’d also have to put the chef and three floor staff on, so it didn’t feel worth it.”

Moya Topsom, manager of The Green Dragon pub in Church Street, Wymondham. Picture: Daniel MoxonMoya Topsom, manager of The Green Dragon pub in Church Street, Wymondham. Picture: Daniel Moxon

The 25-year-old was pleased the pub was fully booked for Wednesday, and anticipates it will still “get a bit of an extra boost” during August.

Brendan Gray’s time in charge of the Station Bistro at Wymondham Rail Station has been tumultuous to say the least.

He took over and opened on February 28, but had to close when lockdown was announced just a few weeks later and only managed to get going again last month.

In the first week of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, the bistro saw a “30 to 40pc increase” in customers coming through the doors, much to the 29-year-old’s relief.

He said: “It’s great for the consumers and for business – we have to wait a little bit longer before we get the full price, but it’s worth it in the end.”

The Green Dragon pub in Church Street, Wymondham. Picture: Daniel MoxonThe Green Dragon pub in Church Street, Wymondham. Picture: Daniel Moxon

MORE: Map shows all the restaurants taking part in money off Eat Out to Help Out scheme


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