TRADE is booming for Southend venues, as customers are flocking to their favourite pubs and restaurants to make the most of the Government’s half price eating out initiative.

Bosses at venues say they are rushed off their feet and struggling to fit in all the bookings as the Eat Out to Help Out scheme is seeing more people supporting their favourite restaurant or pub.

Garry Lowen, 62, of the Gleneagles Guest House in Southend said: "It's been incredibly successful for us, we do not usually open on Mondays but we've been packed. It's been really busy and customers are surprised with the discount they are getting. We are pleased with how it's been going as we were shut for so long with the coronavirus outbreak.

"I think it will keep going as successfully as it has been so far. We are going to open for Mondays for the rest of August because of how well the scheme has been going. I think it's a clever scheme and that it's also very much about giving people the confidence to come out and eat again."

James Anderson, 40, owner of the Oaktree Vegan Restaurant in Leigh said his venue is fully booked for a few days and he's delighted with the success so far.

He said: "We have been mobbed with customers and bookings. We are delighted as the last four months have been dreadful for everyone in the industry. It's still a bit difficult as we can't run at full capacity, so to have something like this eat out scheme which eases the burden is great.

"I am not surprised at how it's been going with this scheme, as people do love a bargain."

Antony Tomassi, 63, of Southend's high street Italian restaurant Tomassi's said customers are queuing out the door for a table and seat.

The business boss said: "We've had an overwhelming response and doubled our takings on Monday. It's been very successful for us and we've has queues for the restaurant and takeaway. It's helping people come out into the town for something to eat.

"People are certainly eating out at the Government's expense, we are definitely benefitting from this and hope it continues into August."

Jacqui Dallimore, Managing Director at Roslin Beach Hotel, in Southend also said the Government's discount eating scheme has helped business.

She said: "We’ve seen a really amazing response to the scheme. Thanks to the brilliant weather and our lovely outdoor terrace we have seen a real increase in customers which we’re thrilled about. Our afternoon teas are almost full on Wednesdays, so we’re now looking to offer afternoon tea on Tuesdays too to meet demand. Guests who have ventured out for the first time have also said how safe they felt and how great the ambiance is which is a real boost for the team to hear. We look forward to welcoming many more people as the summer goes on.”