Coming in August to a restaurant near you... half price food

Hundreds of Northern Ireland eateries will participate in the Eat Out to Help Out scheme beginning next week
Gary McDonald Business Editor

HUNDREDS of Northern Ireland eateries, ranging from modest coffee shops to high-end Michelin star-rated restaurants, have signed up to the Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme, where diners get 50 per cent off meals and non-alcoholic drinks, up to £10 a head, throughout August.

And the government, which announced the move in a bid to help revive the flagging hospitality sector, has now launched a postcode checker to see what’s available in people's own specific areas.

By clicking into, customers can find participating eateries within a five-mile radius of the postcode they use.

Indeed as an example, using the postcode of the Irish News head office in Belfast, more than 100 eating establishments popped up as having registered to offer the discount.

The will be among more than 55,000 hospitality businesses across Britain and Northern Ireland taking part, including major chains like McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Subway, Starbucks and Costa Coffee.

The promotion offers the discount when eating or drinking soft drinks (booze isn't included) in participating restaurants, cafés, bars, pubs and even work canteens, and is valid all day on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from August 3-31.

There is no limit on how many people can use the discount in one party, and it includes children.

There had been fears that, with the various caveats involved (restaurants will deduct the money off the bill and must then claim it back from the government), there would be limited take-up of the scheme outside Belfast.

But it appears eateries in every part of the north have signed up, underlining just how keen they are to lure back customers, even for a half-price £2 cup of coffee or £3.19 McChicken Sandwich.

While the scheme has been branded a gimmick and has come under fire from some anti-obesity campaigners, its introduction has been largely welcomed by lobby groups including Hospitality Ulster.

Its chief executive Colin Neill told the Irish News: “The entire hospitality sector has had it so tough in the last number of months and all businesses will be faced with the reality of operating at reduced capacity for some time to come.

“Ongoing government support and initiatives like this are crucial on the long and hard road to recovery.

“We now need to encourage as many people as possible to visit our excellent venues once again, and this scheme will go some way in getting people out.”

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