Restaurants to continue meal deal initiative

A nationwide meal deal intended to help boost businesses after this year’s coronavirus lockdown proved so popular in the Borders that many restaurants here are now offering their own versions of it following the end of the UK Government initiative.

By Paul Kelly
Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 3:11 pm
Kamila Raczynska, owner of Adam's Kitchen in Hawick.
Kamila Raczynska, owner of Adam's Kitchen in Hawick.

More than 85,000 meals were claimed for in the region as part of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August.

In total, 116 Borders restaurants took part, with £566,000 in discounts being claimed and covered by the UK treasury.

That meant more than £1m was spent in restaurants as a direct result of the scheme.

The discount was launched to encourage people to support their local eateries and help protect jobs.

Diners could claim 50% discounts up to £10 off their meal and soft drinks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays last month.

The average discount claimed in the Borders was £6.46, meaning an average spend of just under £13 on food and soft drinks for each claim.

It proved a godsend for many eateries as they struggled to return after lockdown.

That was certainly the case for Kamila Raczynska, owner of Adam’s Kitchen in Hawick High Street.

Polish-born Kamila said: “We have decided to continue with the scheme on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

“I have to say I think the scheme was a brilliant idea. It was great for business.

“It meant that I have work, my staff have work and the suppliers from whom we buy food and drink have more work, and customers are happy because they have cheaper meals.

“We have decided to continue it at our own cost for all of September and October under the same rules, although, of course, it would be great if the government continued its grants. Tuesday and Wednesday is really busy and you feel the difference on Thursday, when there is no promotion.

“Obviously, my income is less because I have to cover the discount, but I think it is better like this than to have no one here.”

Many other eateries across the Borders have also decided to offer their own versions of the discounted scheme on certain midweek days, including the Waggon Inn at Coalmarket in Kelso, now offering a 35% discount, and the Salmon Inn in Bank Street in Galashiels, advertising a 20% discount throughout September.

Across Scotland, 6.3m meals were claimed across 8,543 restaurants, with more than £38.5m being paid out by the UK treasury.

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont has hailed the scheme as a shot in the arm for the hospitality industry, saying: “I am delighted that Borderers have answered the call to support their local restaurants and eateries.

“This will be a huge boost to a sector that had to close for months as the coronavirus pandemic forced closures across the UK.

“This has undoubtedly saved jobs and made it possible for restaurants to get back up and running again.”