THE government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme was a vital shot in the arm for local eateries, a Strabane restaurateur has said.
Kieran Murphy of Murphy’s on the Green fame was speaking in the wake of the project finishing on Monday.
Eat Out to Help Out offered diners a 50 per-cent discount on their bill at participating sit-in establishments.
Launched on the first Monday in August, the scheme was available at participating restaurants, cafes and pubs on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and offered that 50 per-cent discount – up to a maximum of £10 discount per customer – on their meals and non-alcoholic drinks.
The idea behind the scheme was to offer people meals at a discounted rate while supporting the local economy and jobs following the difficult months of lockdown.
“We were incredibly busy,” Kieran Murphy explained this week. “As busy as Christmas, probably even busier. And the suppliers I was talking to too were also finding things really busy.
“Actually, the problem we had was that we had to turn people away. We turned more away than we served and we served a fair few. This was unfortunate but hopefully people will understand.
“But absolutely, it was a hand-out that they made us work for. It turned one of the quietest months of the year into the busiest.”
Mr Murphy said the scheme worked so well, people even took to querying their bills after eating.
“The first week you had to explain it to people but they soon got onto it,” he continued. “People even queried the bills when they saw the difference.
“The first couple of days, we didn’t know how it was going to go – but it was absolutely a complete success,” Mr Murphy continued.
“We would have no problem taking part in something like this again.”
He concluded, “September will seem quieter now with August being so busy. But if we could encourage people to support local business – not only us – Strabane is going to struggle in the months ahead.”