Keswick café and pub owners are concerned that national deals to continue offering diners discounts will harm their business.
The Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which ended on Monday, saw people get up to £10 per person off a meal.
Several national restaurant and pub chains, including JD Wetherspoon, have announced they will offer similar schemes now the Government offer has ended.
Sarah Bell manages Jasper’s Coffee House on Station Street.
She said she was worried about large companies choosing to extend the deals privately.
“I am a little concerned because we can’t afford to extend the discounts ourselves.
“Is that going to make us have less customers because they are going elsewhere?
“Wetherspoon can bulk buy a million burgers, but it’s more expensive for us to make fresh food,” she said.
She added her café saw more customers, but she would have preferred it to have been rolled out in the off-peak season.
Sarah said that being part of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme did not work to encourage local, regular customers back to her café.
She added: “Having the scheme during the off-peak season would allow locals to come in. We’ve not had any of our regulars in during the scheme.
“At the moment, we are at half capacity so about the same number of people are being fed as are being turned away.”
JD Wetherspoon, which owns Keswick’s Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, has launched a Stay Out to Help Out scheme.
The firm will reduce its prices on a range of food and drink between Mondays and Wednesdays until 11th November.
Chris Lloyd is the manager of The Royal Oak hotel and restaurant on Keswick’s Main Street.
It took part in the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
He said: “Some companies are doing the scheme privately now, but we won’t be able to do that.
“For us to survive, we couldn’t do another month of the deals. We lost a huge amount of money during lockdown.”
He added that although he felt Eat Out to Help Out was a good scheme, it was at the wrong time for the year for Keswick.
He said: “I don’t think there was a benefit to us being part of the scheme. Keswick is the busiest I’ve ever known it, but all businesses have reduced capacity.
“We could have filled this place 10 times over in August.
“If you said do Eat Out to Help Out in November or January, we would see the benefits when the town is quieter.”
Chris said that he thought the government’s scheme was better suited to restaurants in city centres.
He added: “For the likes of Zizzi’s it is a good thing because people are not backing town centres yet.
“Keswick is a tourist destination, so we’re going to be busy until mid-October anyway.”
Phil Harrison, who has owned the Twisted Magnolia Belgian beer bar and bistro on Keswick’s Lake Road for eight years, said: “I think the scheme must have helped, but it was more helpful for town and city centres then for Keswick.
“It was a scheme for the whole country, and it didn’t really suit Keswick.
“It would have been better if it was run in September or October because there would still be people around to take advantage of it.
“In mid-August the town is packed anyway.”
Cearan Davidson is the supervisor at The Wainwright Pub on Lake Road.
He said: “The scheme was a great idea, but the way it was done was terrible.
“It encouraged people to come in groups, and with the pandemic on, that’s concerning. We’re a small pub with only one entrance and one exit.
As soon as we were full, we got people gathering in groups at the door. It’s our only fire exit.
“There are already way too many people coming into the Lakes and the scheme gave people more reason to congregate irresponsibly.
“As soon as the scheme has ended, it’s better in town.”
Cearan said that The Wainwright would not be extending the scheme privately.
“The Government’s told business owners and breweries that they’ll have to pay for the cost of the discounts themselves. We would lose money by extending it.”
Libby Barton owns Treeby & Bolton on Lake Road with her husband Dan.
They said that although they thought the scheme was a positive thing for customers, they would not be extending it themselves.
Libby said: “It’s all right for Wetherspoon, but it’s not going to work for us.
“We’ve thought about it, but it’s just not viable for independently-owned, family businesses to continue offering the deals.”