The Sheffield pubs reintroducing Eat Out to Help Out they seek to bounce back
A year after it was first introduced to support embattled landlords, Eat Out to Help Out is making a comeback in Sheffield.
Paul Foster, who owns two pubs in Sheffield and one in Rotherham, has brought back the scheme first dreamt up by chancellor Rishi Sunak in a fresh effort to pull in the punters needed to sustain his venues’ recovery.
Although he says trade at his watering hole has been strong since pubs were allowed to reopen, but he has warned of a ‘domino effect of closures’ facing the industry as the support made available during the Covid pandemic is gradually withdrawn and landlords have to pay back loans.
Paul, 37, runs The Red Lion on Penistone Road in Grenoside, The Norfolk Arms in Chapeltown and the Manor Barn in the village of Kimberworth, employing 55 people across those three sites.
They are offering 50 per cent off all food from Monday to Wednesday for those with discount cards, which are available free of charge. Another discount – two meals for £12 – runs on Thursdays.
Paul said: “We are giving more than £1,000 away every day, but I’ve done some calculations.
“As long as the VAT stays at 5%, it allows us to make it more affordable for people coming out and to give it back to the community.
“It’s been unbelievable so far. We have more than doubled the customers recently and it actually feels like a pub again.
“We have started to do live music every Saturday. Last week, we had a Beatles tribute, and you know when you walk into a pub, you feel the atmosphere, see the smiles on people’s faces, it’s just superb.”
The Eat Out To Help Out discount will be reviewed at the end of August.
Paul thinks community is at the heart of his business and he delivered afternoon tea and bottomless brunch packages earlier this year before his venues could reopen.
“It was a way for people to send a gift to their friends and family. I think it’s nice to have a knock on the door and open up to see a gift delivered because someone has thought about you,” he said.
“It went really successfully and it also gave us the confidence to carry it through.”
Paul said his pubs have been going from strength to strength since they reopened in April but he remains cautious about the future.
He said: “I don’t think we will have enough time to recover as an industry. If you look at 12-months down the line, it looks like we are paying full VAT again, full business rates and all the Bounce Back loans, I think there will be a domino effect of closures.
“On the positive side, we are able to do more events now, for example, we are returning our Friendship Lunch which we used to do before the pandemic and it’s for people who tend to be isolated or lonely. It’s wonderful to see them come out and mingle.
“We can do our bit in the community, pulling it back together and getting those smiles back on people’s faces, and hopefully we make a sustainable business out of it.”