Brits are getting a great deal from the government during the month of August. Instead of the usual value-added tax that takes a bite out of their wallets, the government is giving those who choose to dine in at restaurants 50% off the cost of their food up to 10 pounds (about $12.50) per person.
The state-funded Eat Out to Help program created a rush of people wanting to take advantage of the offer, but it probably won’t be enough to save many restaurants and pubs, especially in areas typically filled with office workers.
Restaurant patron Stephen Entwhistle said:
“Coming to London feels like you’ve walked into a scene from 28 Days Later,” referring to a post-apocalyptic horror film in which most of the population is dead.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak announced the program in July. It offers 50% off on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in August. The government has also cut the value-added tax for the hospitality sector.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, an industry group, still thinks about one-third of Britain’s bars and restaurants are at risk of permanent closure.
While that might happen, there’s no doubt the Brits are eating up the Eat Out to Help offer. Hawksmoor steakhouse offered an extra 10 pounds off, essentially matching the government’s offer, and announced it had 5,500 seats available in August. All the seats were reserved within six hours.
Huw Gott, one of Hawksmoor’s founders, said:
“So far, the re-openings have gone better than we hoped. But who knows what September and October will bring?”