A FAMILY restaurant in Southend would have closed its doors for good were it not for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

The government’s initiative allowed families to dine in restaurants which had felt the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic at a reduced price.

Salsa Tapas & Grill, on London Road, has been a south Essex favourite for 11 years.

But Carlos Gomes, the restaurant’s director, feels the Eat Out to Help Out scheme stopped the business going bust.

He said: “It has been very difficult, particularly because we didn’t have any help initially.

“But the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme is the reason we are still open, to be honest.

“It was tough when we were forced to close but, even with social distancing regulations, we have still been able to welcome 110 people into the restaurant.


Difficult times - director Carlos Gomes fears the second lockdown will cause more chaos for businesses

“The Eat Out to Help Out scheme saved so many businesses, like us, and it would be great if a similar initiative could take place further down the line.”

Salsa Tapas & Grill saw numerous competitors close due to the pandemic.

Carlos added: “Before the Eat Out to Help Out scheme was put into action, we feared for the future.

“It was not looking great for us at the start of the pandemic, when we had to shut, but we agreed that we would wait and see if we could continue because competitors were closing.


“We had been left out in the cold before the government’s initiative and it worked well.

“If it hadn’t worked well or been put in place, I’m not sure Salsa Tapas & Grill would be here today.

“Now we are looking forward. With manager Isabel Coelho’s leadership and the collaboration of all staff, we will always keep to our beliefs to provide great food, friendly service and excellent value for money.”


Aiming to please - Isabel Coelho shows off one of the Southend restaurant’s burgers

Carlos fears the second lockdown, which was imposed on Thursday, will cause chaos for more businesses.

He admitted: “People just need to take more responsibility by self-isolating if they show symptoms of coronavirus.

“We don’t want to see more businesses shutting in the coming weeks and months because of another lockdown.”

Every week we will be unveiling our Trader of the Week as we look to champion local businesses across south Essex. To nominate your own business or somewhere you enjoy visiting, simply complete our online form.