11:26AM, Tuesday 11 August 2020
Flavio Pantalaeo greeting a customer outside his High Street cafe
Restaurateurs saw a surge in bookings following the launch of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme – but fears remain over the future of Maidenhead’s hospitality industry.
Customers who ‘eat-in’ at participating restaurants can get up to a £10 discount per person on food and non-alcoholic drink on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.
Venues to sign up in Maidenhead include Bianco Nero, in Bridge Street, Roux at Skindles and Noodle Nation in King Street.
Pietro Mingolla, co-owner of Bianco Nero, said he had been fully booked for the opening days of the initiative but warned his family-run Italian restaurant may not survive without the continued support of dine-in customers.
He said: “We’ve done everything we can to make it COVID-safe so I’d say just support local and let’s try and keep the local economy going.
“Local businesses rely on local customers and without them we wouldn’t be here.”
Bianco Nero, which opened in 2013, underwent a makeover at the beginning of the year but the company saw its plans severely hampered by COVID-19.
The company traded throughout the lockdown period by running a takeaway service but the re-opening of pubs has had a knock-on effect on the number of people ordering food to their homes.
He added: “Ever since the lockdown restrictions eased for pubs things have really died down.
“It’s just the way it is, it’s the nature of the beast with summer time where people want to go to the pub.
“Before easing of the lockdown, takeaway was doing really well and now we’re relying on people dining in.”
Flavio Pantaleao, owner of independent High Street venue Flavio’s, said his business had seen an extra 30 to 40 customers each day since the start of the Government initiative.
But he said focus should be placed on filling empty shops to tempt people back to Maidenhead High Street.
“The problem is there’s a lot of empty shops in the High Street and I think we need to focus on making them look more attractive,” he said.
“The fronts of many of the shops are very old and if I was in charge I would sort out the High Street, fill out the shops and then look at what else we can do.”
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