'Beyond busy' Devon pub pulls out of Eat Out to Help Out scheme

The pub is too small to accommodate the number of people wanting to visit. Credit: Google Maps

A pub in North Devon has withdrawn from the Government's 'Eat Out to Help Out' scheme after being "beyond busy" since it started on Monday.

The owners of Westleigh Inn near Bideford said while they support the incentive to boost business after the pandemic, it was not practical to introduce it during the summer.

They have pulled out of the scheme after a chaotic couple of days, telling customers they cannot give their "high standard of service" with the amount of customers going in.

The scheme launched on Monday 3 August. Credit: HMT

But in August for a small pub like us, especially our kitchen, we can not give our high standard of service we pride ourselves on with the amount of customers we have been receiving. We are sorry if this disappoints anyone but we hope you can understand the physical and mental stress it has put us and all our staff under.

Westleigh Inn

Steph Dyer and Pete Kenwood, who run the pub, said they made the decision after serving 98 covers in just over an hour.

They have 10 indoor tables and 20 outside, but only take bookings inside due to the unpredictability of British weather.

With so many people wanting to sit outside in recent days, the volume of customers was too much for the small village pub to handle.

Steph said, "We are not a microwave 'ping' restaurant. Everything is cooked fresh and it takes time to present and serve it all properly."

According to the couple, people were waiting well over an hour for their food to arrive - falling well below their high standard of service.

They also expressed concern about social distancing and how customers could not safely keep apart when waiting to use the toilet.

Steph added, "I think the scheme is a fantastic idea and it's been really well organised - I just think the timing is completely wrong. It would have been 100 per cent better - after most of the tourists have gone home.

"We have had a huge influx of holidaymakers, which we always have in Devon and Cornwall - but this year it's busier than ever because a lot of people haven't gone abroad for their holidays."


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