Leicester restaurants have seen customers return after they were finally able to open their doors a month later than the rest of the country on 3 August, in time to take advantage of the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
Francesco Topan, owner of Casa Romana restaurant in Albion Street, told The Caterer: "We've been here for 30 years and our clientele came back quite easily. We're having some good weeks, we're quite pleased."
The success of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in the city has seen the council bring in emergency measures to prohibit queueing, gathering or congregating outside food businesses along a section of London Road, requiring businesses to operate more stringent booking systems.
However despite the scheme drawing people back to restaurants, restrictions preventing people from multiple households socialising indoors remain in place across the city, which hit headlines as the first in the UK to be subject to ‘local lockdown rules'.
Topan added: "Eat Out to Help Out has helped a lot and we're having a fantastic beginning to weeks – it looks like Saturday night on a Tuesday. What concerns me is what will happen when the scheme finishes – it's all a bubble at the minute."
Businesses had previously called for the council to initiate a marketing campaign as restrictions are lifted to welcome people back.
In the meantime, Topan said it's important for people to move on. He added: "The first week we came back and the discussion was about the pandemic, but in week two, I'm trying not to talk about it. When people come out they want to have a fun time – they don't want to talk about what they've been hearing on the television for months."
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