RESTAURANT owners and town centre BID groups across Dorset have hailed the current Eat Out to Help Out scheme, as many businesses have reported record takings thanks to the campaign.

The initiative, running through the whole of August, involves the Treasury footing up to £10 off per head on Monday to Wednesday, and has proved a huge success.

Restaurants, cafes, pubs and other establishments are reporting a surge in business on days that are traditionally the quieter ones in the hospitality sector.

The Treasury received more than 10.5million claims for meals from restaurants in the first week.

The pub chain Brewhouse & Kitchen saw business more than double during the early days of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, as sales rose 115 per cent at the start of the initiative.

It said sales at its brewpubs, which include Bournemouth, Southbourne and Poole, were strong even at the end of the week, when the chancellor’s offer does not apply.

Brewhouse & Kitchen CEO Kris Gumbrell said: “Food sales have been very strong through the week and we saw growth continue every day through Thursday, Friday and Saturday across the group.

“Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been the icing on the cake.”

At West Beach on Bournemouth's seafront business has been booming.

The resort's shoreline has been packed.

Boss Andy Price said: "Eat Out to Help Out has definitely been one of the saviours for us, along with the weather."

Doubling the size of the outdoor hospitality area for table service and takeaway has also helped.

Chairman of Bournemouth's Town BID, Martin Davies, said there had been a great response to the Eat Out initiative.

He added: "Businesses have been busy and customers have been getting great deals and trying places they haven't been to before.

"Hopefully people will have had a great experience, realise what a great hospitality sector we are blessed with and continue to support it."

He urged customers to be kind to hospitality staff and to make sure they cancelled booking rather than simply not turn up on the day.

Manager of Bournemouth's Coastal BID, Fiona McArthur said: "Feedback from our levy payers in relation to Eat Out to Help Out has been extremely positive, with many of them reporting record days in takings.

"They have coped admirably with the new regulations placed upon them as a result of the Covid pandemic and continue to work hard to support their communities.

"However once Eat Out finishes, we urge everyone to continue to support these businesses and to put their hard-earned money back into the local economy, so that we can get through this together."

However with less 10 days remaining of the campaign, BID groups are still encouraging people to head out onto the high street and support local retailers.

Steve Reilly from the Poole BID added: “The Eat Out to Help Out scheme continues to surpass everyone’s expectations in Poole and it fabulous to see the public continue to take advantage of the offer.

"Whilst at times this has led to some pressure on the restaurants they have coped really well, a number have now taken on extra staff to cope, an unexpected benefit.

"With the scheme running to until 31st August there is plenty of opportunity to continue to eat out to help out.”