If you really want to ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ this month, eat independent

Eat Independent, Support Local

Independent food and drink businesses in Wales are calling on the public to ‘eat independent, support local’ whilst using the government’s “Eat Out to Help Out” discount scheme throughout August.

The discount scheme – announced by Rishi Sunak last month – offers a half price discount on eating out (up to the value of £10) on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August.

Whilst Rishi’s scheme was introduced to encourage people to spend money in all sorts of hospitality businesses, choosing to use the discount to eat with primarily independent food and drink venues, can help direct government support to those small businesses, high streets and communities who need it the most. 

In Wales restaurants, food service and accommodation employ around 100,000 people. But why is supporting independent food & drink businesses in particular so important?

They help our High Streets

Simon Wright, restaurateur, food writer and owner of Wright’s Food Emporium in Llanarthne, is a founding member of the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective, a group of over 300 local food & drink businesses which formed in May to help the sector through lockdown. 

Simon explained how independent restaurants play an integral part in their communities across Wales. 

“Independent food and drink businesses are the heart and soul of high streets, towns and villages throughout Wales. By employing local people, working with other independent producers and using neighbourhood services, they’re keeping money circulating in the Welsh economy. That’s beneficial to us all.

If you spend with an independent, the value is multiplied many times in the local economy and that’s what we need now more than ever – spend local and independent – and keep the money in Wales.”

They support Welsh producers

Independent food and drink businesses are also crucial to Welsh farmers and growers. Pawel Wisniewski, of Paul’s Organic Veg, grows fruit and veg on his 17 acre plot outside Abergavenny with his wife and a team of four.

Pawel Wisniewski of Paul’s Organic Veg

He said: “The independent restaurants we work with – from neighbourhood bistros to Michelin starred chefs – are a really important part of our business. The contracts we have to supply restaurants in Cardiff and around us here in Monmouthshire give us the security of regular income which is good for business and for employing staff. With some, we’re planning a year ahead so we can grow specialist varieties just for them. Eating at these independent places is definitely supporting us and our local team.”.

They pull in the tourists

Independent food and drink businesses also play a central part of Wales’ tourism offer, and have a crucial role in supporting the hospitality and local service sectors. One such business is Hide at St Donats, a boutique accommodation business which has has four cabans tucked between the trees at Tresilian Wood. Run by husband and wife team Paula and Tom Warren, they explained:

“Our business relies on great local restaurants using local produce to attract tourists to the area. Without Wales’ incredible, independent establishments, we could not survive. We will be supporting the ‘Eat Independent, Support Local’ campaign all the way.”

They’re less resilient than the multinational chains

Supporting local independents is crucial to helping them survive against the homogenisation of the UK’s high streets. The big names dominate because they are able to fork out for higher rents and lure customers in with regular discounts and offers – something our indies find very hard to compete with.

In Bristol, the ‘Eat Local, Support Independent’ campaign is being managed by the Bristol Food Union. Aine Morris, founder of the Bristol Food Union, explained how indies have been hit harder by lock down – and deserve our support more than ever.

“Whilst the Bristol Food Union welcomes the government’s support of the hospitality industry over August, it leaves a somewhat unpleasant taste to realise that the biggest beneficiaries of the scheme will be the multinational fast food chains. These businesses can afford to ride out the economic downturn, whilst many of the smaller independents cannot. Bristol’s food community did an exceptional job of keeping the city fed during lockdown, we hope that the public will now lend their support by using their discount with participating independents as much as possible.”

Want to show your support? This is how…

First off – book a table at your local independent! Whether its using the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme (you can search for participating restaurants here) or just taking advantage of indoor opening being back on the cards in Wales, your local will thank you.

You cal also support the ‘Eat Independent, Support Local’ campaign in particular by using the hashtags #EatIndieWales and #EatIndieBristol hashtags whenever you post about your favourites on social media.

Food businesses in Wales who are supporting the ‘Eat Independent Support Local’ campaign will be displaying a window sticker (pictured in the header of this blog post) – look out for one in the window of your local restaurant. WIRC member restaurants can order a window sticker by emailing kernel@wirc.cymru.

You can also follow the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective on Twitter:  @WIRC10, Instagram: @w_i_r_c , and Facebook: @wircgroup.

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