RESTAURANT owners in Ledbury have praised the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme for creating much-needed business. Statistics for the parliamentary constituency of North Herefordshire show 96 restaurants signed up for the scheme and 57,000 meals were served. Customers enjoyed a whopping £366,000 in discounts, with an average discount per customer of £6.44. The Oak Inn at Staplow, near Ledbury, enjoyed a busy August thanks to the initiative, said managers Chris Howell and Heather Owen. Mr Howell said: “The best way to describe it is that it was like a busy Saturday night but every day of the week, so it has really boosted our business. “Front of house staff worked very hard, as they always do, making sure it was a success and we got the social distancing right, with new customers joining us as ones who’ve been with us for a long time. “Our outdoor live music and cinema night has really taken off, allowing customers to be entertained in a safe environment.” The pub had decided it will even offer private movie parties as it seeks to find ways to diversify to respond to the economic conditions created by the pandemic. Ros Saunders, manager at The Seven Stars in The Homend, said: “We were worried at first as we’d heard of horror stories of restaurants pulling out of the scheme because of rowdy customers but the ones through our door were lovely. “It really worked for the restaurant as it got people out again and made it busy throughout the week. “We’re now doing our own discount of three courses for £15.” Caroline Green, chair of the Ledbury Traders Association, said: “The scheme has been a tremendous success. “Restaurants and cafes in the town were very busy with holidaymakers and it was difficult to get a seat at times. “The scheme has restored confidence in people to eat out and some of the eateries are going to continue to offer their own type of discounts to encourage even more people through the door.” “The government did the right thing by introducing the scheme to get people eating out again.” ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ entitled diners to receive up to 50 per cent off food and non-alcoholic drinks - up to a maximum of £10 per person - on Monday to Wednesdays throughout August.