Wigan pub launches own version of national eating out discount scheme

The Crooke Hall Inn has unveiled Eat Out for Next to Nowt, following the Government's initiative which ran throughout August.
Dean McDonald outside the Crooke Hall InnDean McDonald outside the Crooke Hall Inn
Dean McDonald outside the Crooke Hall Inn

Manager Dean McDonald said Eat Out to Help Out was a considerable success for the canalside pub and he was keen to build on it.

Where the Government scheme offered diners half-price meals and non-alcoholic drinks between Monday and Wednesday, Dean’s version involves visitors choosing two main meals from a selection of pub grub favourites for £10 and then adding a low-cost dessert.

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However, it will also run in midweek rather than at weekends. Dean says this has been a huge success for the Crooke Hall Inn and dismissed concerns which have been raised elsewhere in the industry that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme filled up tables in midweek but caused pubs and restaurants to suffer empty rooms and low demand on Friday nights and at the weekend.

He said: “We’ve done quite well on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, so as it finished on Monday we’ve launched this.

People seem to have got into the habit of going out and expecting value for money on those days.

“At first it was a bit quiet but then people saw it in the press and on the news and cottoned on.

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“Since then we’ve been packed to capacity every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, it has been really good.

“I saw in the trade press that nationally we’re looking at about a 61 per cent increase in food trade on those days. I think it has been a good thing for the industry.

“It has been a bit quieter at weekends but you can’t have it all ways. I’m very happy with being busy on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in a way we never have before, and that’s given us the opportunity to do this scheme of our own.”

Dean says Eat Out For Next To Nowt will probably run until Easter, as the pub has done similar offers through the quieter winter season before.

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Dean said one of the biggest benefits of Eat Out to Help Out was encouraging residents reluctant to leave their homes after lockdown to take that first step back to something like normality.

He said: “It has given people an excuse to come back out.

“They were a bit frightened or wary and were worried about whether regulations would be policed properly and whether we were doing what we should be doing with social distancing.

“Hopefully they will have been pleasantly surprised and will feel far more confident about going out more often. I’m hoping that will now carry on.”

Dean says one reason he is continuing to run Eat Out for Next to Nowt as a midweek scheme is that the Crooke Hall Inn’s location, in a secluded rural spot next to a marina, means factors other than whether people are at work or not come into play.

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He said: “The weekend trade here tends to look after itself. It’s very weather dependent. If we get to Saturday and it’s throwing it down we will be quiet, but if it’s cracking the flags it will be heaving.”

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