THE government's dinner discount scheme is already helping local establishments in Northwich recover from devastating lockdown losses.

Eat Out to Help Out only started last Monday (August 3) and offers diners a 50 percent discount on meals and soft drinks in participating restaurants, cafes and pubs. The promotion runs all day from Monday to Wednesday until August 31 and aims to provide a boost to the heavily hit hospitality industry.

Penny Hitch, who runs Vinnies on Weaver Square Shopping Centre, said she the business had been "absolutely rammed" since the deal began last Monday morning.

She said: "We've had an absolutely brilliant take up from customers, some of which we've actually never seen before.

"There have been so many people who have been here and said they didn't even know we existed."

"We even had a couple of the local councillors drop by to see us over the weekend and it is really heartening to know that they care about how we've coping."

Penny also went on to say how proud she was that the business was reaping the benefits of planning before re-opening and was operating "uber safely" and both staff and customers said they felt "safe and secure."

She added: "It's given us all a look into the future.

"During lockdown, we were faced with the very frightening prospect of never being able to open again, but this came has really given everyone a boost.

"Everything is so positive and I look forward to every day, day after day now."

With a 50 percent discount off all food and soft drinks, up to a maximum of £10 per customer, Penny said she had noticed people ordering more of the larger, expensive items.

"We do a build your own milkshake here, which at £3.50, people often say is "too big for one person" but they are ordering them a lot more now, and finding they can finish them too!"

Gill Ashbrook, who works in the Iron Bridge pub on Chester Road, was another to praise the impact of the scheme, saying it had been "fantastic so far" and had also brought some brand new customers to the venue.

She said: "We couldn't have done any better really. We really noticed a massive increase in customers since last Monday.

"We took the same last Monday as did on the opening night after lockdown (July 4) and by the Wednesday we had doubled that.

"Some of the customers were initially nervous about coming in, but once they saw all the safety measures in place, they felt at ease and told us so, which is great to hear. Having a nice big beer garden definitely helps."

Michelle Kidd, of the Seafarer in Weaver Square, was also keen to praise the scheme, saying it was clearly a good thing to bring people back out and enjoying what the town has to offer.

She said: "It's been fantastic. We've obviously had lots of people still enjoying the take away aspect of the business, but it's not been bad for those deciding to eat in either.

"It can only be a good thing for everyone, to provide this incentive to get back out supporting different businesses."

On Saturday the Town Mayor (Cllr Kevin Rimmer), Cllr Bob Cernik and Cllr Andrew Cooper did a walkabout in the town centre and visited a number of businesses.

Cllr Cooper said: "Saturday was the first day back for the monthly Artisan Market, which is normally a footfall booster, and we wanted to take the temperature of a few of the café owners and shopkeepers to see how they were getting on.

"I’ve been visiting Vinnie’s for milkshake since they were a small stall on the market and it’s great to see them constantly re-inventing themselves and doing new things in what are tough times for everyone.

"The Eat Out to Help Out scheme does seem to be having a positive impact, and in the cafes I’ve visited I’ve felt safe and looked-after. Our independent cafes and bars have pulled out all the stops to make their venues as safe as they can be, with many now offering delivery and take away, as well as eating in."

Cllr Cooper went on to say that both Cheshire West and Chester and Northwich Town Council were doing all they can to support the town centre through this period and was positive that the community will do likewise.

The discount is only available on food and soft drinks that are consumed on the premises. There is no limit on how many people can use the discount in one party and it includes children.

The maximum discount available is £10 per person. Food and drink will appear on the menu at full price and the restaurant will deduct the money off the bill and claim it back from the Government.