More than 100 million meals were claimed under the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme, with the 84,700 establishments signed up to the scheme making 130,000 claims worth £522m.
Restaurants have until the end of September to claim back the 50% government-funded discount.
Latest figures from the Treasury show the scheme significantly boosted restaurant bookings during August. According to OpenTable data, restaurant bookings increased by an average of 53% on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August, compared to the same days in 2019. On 31 August – the final day of the scheme – bookings were up 216% compared to the equivalent day in 2019.
Early signs suggest the scheme has continued to boost demand, with a 2% rise in restaurant bookings on 1 September compared to the equivalent day in 2019. Although some operators look forward with optimism, and many are continuing their own versions of the scheme, many that The Caterer spoke to earlier this week also fear a tough autumn and winter ahead.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the figures showed the scheme had been "a success" and thanked the restaurant industry for "helping drive our economic recovery".
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, also described the scheme as a "great success" and said members have reported very strong bookings throughout August "at a time when the sector really needed a boost".
She added: "It has helped provide a lift in consumer confidence, which is going to be key for hospitality businesses as they look to reopen and help rebuild the economy. The scheme has provided a timely boost in trade which will have helped many businesses safeguard jobs all around the UK."
David Page, chairman of Fulham Shore, which operates Franco Manca and the Real Greek, said the scheme immediately increased restaurant customer numbers by more than 50%, enabling the group to get all its staff back to work and even create new jobs.
Meanwhile, Stephen Wall, managing director and co-founder of Pho, said the scheme had been "amazing" and "seems to have encouraged the British public to dine out safely, as our restaurants are filling up and staying busy throughout the weekend, too".