MORE than half a million pounds has been claimed by bars and restaurants in the city through last month’s Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme.

A total of 126,000 discounted meals were claimed for in Worcester throughout the month as part of the Government scheme which offered half-price food and drinks to diners.

The amount of meals means just under 100 bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants in the city have claimed back £562,000.

Many businesses in the city welcomed the scheme, which ended on August 31, and called for it to continue.

Belgian beer cafe Tripel B in Copenhagen Street saw some of its busiest days of trading since opening last year, according to owner Craig Finn, who said the scheme had worked very well.

“I think it has worked well for us,” he said. “Although it was a lot of hard work.

“It shifted a bit of trade around, we had some quieter days towards the end of the week and at the weekend, because of the scheme but overall it generated new customers for us.

“We had a lot of people coming to us that wouldn’t normally have come to us and we have seen some repeat trade which is good for us.

“There seems to be a move towards people going out in the week rather than the weekend. I think that trend will continue [for the rest of the year] so we might not see as many people at the start of the week as we did in August with the scheme but more than we would have without it.

“A few people are wary about weekends because of crowds and I think people are preferring to go out in the week when it’s perhaps a bit quieter.

“The change for us is that we will continue to open on a Monday when usually we would be closed and we’ll stay open as long as it remains fruitful to do so.”

Eat Out to Help Out entitled diners to receive up to fifty per cent off food and non-alcoholic drinks - up to a maximum of £10 per person - every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday throughout August.

More than a hundred independent and chain restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs around Worcester signed up to the scheme.

Worcester MP Robin Walker said: “It’s been a huge success story.

“I visited some of the businesses in Worcester city centre and I think what was interesting to me is that it has helped obviously the businesses to which it was targeted, the pubs and the restaurants and so on, but also the small shops have said that it has helped them as it got people out and about and it has got people out and about during the week rather than just the usually busy weekend.

“From that perspective it has been a very valuable intervention.

“Generally, a lot of the businesses I spoke with were understanding of the fact it had to be time limited but actually appreciative that it was an intervention that came at the right time.”

Some city restaurants including Bodega in Foregate Street, Massalla Lounge in Broad Street, Browns at the Quay in Quay Street, The Swan in New Street are all carrying on offering discounts throughout September.

Some chain restaurants such as Pizza Hut, Harvester, Slug and Lettuce and Stonehouse Pizza and Carvery are also extending deals.

A total of 490,000 meals were claimed throughout Worcestershire during the scheme. Around £2.6 million was claimed in discounts in Worcestershire with an average of saving of £5.50 per meal.

Other figures show a total of 79,000 meals were claimed in West Worcestershire – which includes Malvern – throughout August. A total of £451,000 was claimed by 102 restaurants.

A total of 105,000 meals were claimed for in Mid Worcestershire – which includes Droitwich, Evesham and Pershore – throughout August. A total of £562,000 was claimed by 104 restaurants throughout the month.