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Business / First day of discount scheme busy for Olive Tree but business still ‘way down’

The Olive Tree. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

LERWICK cafe The Olive Tree says the first day of the UK government’s Eat Out To Help Scheme last week made for the “busiest Monday that we have ever had”.

However, business is still “way down” compared to before the Covid-19 outbreak, according to owner Brian Minty.

The cafe is one of many local eateries taking part in the scheme, with diners able to receive 50 per cent off their bill up to a value of £10 between Monday and Wednesday.

The discount is covered by the government in a bid to encourage more people back to eating in restaurants and cafes.

Olive Tree owner Minty said the cafe had its busiest ever Monday when the scheme launched on 3 August.

Some other local establishments are similarly reaping the benefits, with bookings busy for The Dowry, for example.

Minty, however, said he felt the flow of customers – which runs through the whole of August – could work better if the campaign was spread through the week.

“I think the whole scheme would be better if it could be done every day in the month, then wouldn’t have this huge rush of people followed by a quiet spell,” he said.

“There will be a slight increase in business, it obviously giving us a much needed boost in August but overall we are still way down compared to where we were before corona.

“Yes it has given us a boost, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, but it is only in August, that’s 13 days of the month.

“I think the scheme would have been more successful if it would have spread out over the whole month, but they probably couldn’t afford it.”

The number of seats in cafe has reduced from 52 to 44 to allow for social distancing, with environmental health assessing the changes.

The company is working two hours less – six instead of eight hours, from 9am to 3pm – and some employees remain on furlough.

“I am looking to increase it to 4pm next month and then 5pm in October, so that when the furlough finishes we are back to 5pm,” Minty added.”

He hopes to have his 11 employees back by October without having to make any redundancies.