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Tables few and far between as city restaurants see mid-week bookings soar

PUBLISHED: 18:27 26 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:32 27 August 2020

Chef Dan Smith and business partner Greg Adjemian who own the Warwick Street Social, Ingham Swan and the Wildebeest, Stoke Holy Cross. Pic: Archant

Chef Dan Smith and business partner Greg Adjemian who own the Warwick Street Social, Ingham Swan and the Wildebeest, Stoke Holy Cross. Pic: Archant

Archant

Owners of restaurants in Norwich are seeing record bookings with the government’s half-price scheme leaving few free tables.

Brad Baxter and his team on the rooftop at Gonzo's Tea Room in Norwich, as they created 'corona cubicles' for social distancing. Picture: Brad BaxterBrad Baxter and his team on the rooftop at Gonzo's Tea Room in Norwich, as they created 'corona cubicles' for social distancing. Picture: Brad Baxter

Owners of restaurants in Norwich are seeing record bookings, with the government’s half-price scheme leaving few free tables.

More than 10 venues in the city were booked up for Wednesday night, the last opportunity this week to enjoy the Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme.

Anyone looking to go out for dinner in the city would have found it difficult to book a table with only early evening or late night bookings available.

Smaller restaurants, including Hickman’s, Benedicts, Gonzo’s and Vine Thai were booked up solidly while even larger venues with more capacity, such as the Ivy and Harry’s, had nothing available at all for Wednesday night.

People enjoying the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in Norwich. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANPeople enjoying the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in Norwich. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Meanwhile the Cozy Club and Farmyard had just one or two time slots.

All three of the restaurants run by business duo Greg Adjemian and Dan Smith, Warwick Street Social, the Wildebeest, in Stoke Holy Cross, and the Ingham Swan, were completely booked up.

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And it’s looking a similar picture already for Monday evening – it’s not only a bank holiday but also the official end of the government scheme.

Mr Adjemian said: “The Eat Out scheme has driven confidence back, reinforcing to an extra level that people can go out and enjoy a food and drink experience. We have seen sales double on a Monday to Wednesday and no negative sales on a Friday or Saturday, so it’s added value.”

Restaurants with space such as the Rooftop Bar, in Rose Lane, were exceptionally busy with no tables free on Wednesday night and only three slots available for Monday.

But for smaller restaurants, owners said it was harder to make profit.

Brad Baxter, owner of Gonzo’s, said he thought they may not even have broken even because they’d had to remove about 20 covers.

“We’ve had to put a lot more staff in place for fewer seats because we can’t have people going up and down the stairs to collect food like we used to and we have to have someone on the door so it’s a difficult situation, it’s because we are so small.”


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