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East Lancs restaurants filling up for Christmas
TABLES for Christmas dinner at pubs and restaurants across East Lancashire are filling up fast, with some establishments having been booked up since August.
Businesses say they have been turning people away for weeks because of the high demand in the region.
Bookings have already started to be taken from Christmas 2014 at some establishments including at the the Freemasons Arms at Wiswell.
Reservations have continued to be taken this year despite the tough economic times and high prices.
Christmas dinner at The Freemasons Arms costs £95 per person. It’s £69.95 at the Craven Heifer in Kelbrook and £72.50 at the Fence Gate Inn. Blackburn’s Clog and Billycock’s Christmas dinner costs £75 per person and £59.50 at Nino’s Restaurant in Rawtenstall.
Ginny Southworth, duty manager at The Craven Heifer in Kelbrook, said: “We are fully booked for Christmas Day and have been since August.
“We have been open for four years and we have been fully booked a long time in advance of the day each year.
“A lot of the people who came last year booked their places again straight away.
“I think people want to go out more on Christmas Day because it saves one person feeling that they have to provide for everyone else on the day.
“It could possibly save a few family rows as well.
“We can seat 45 in the restaurant and a further 22 in the lounge area and we are hoping that next year will see the Christmas Day bookings fill up before August.”
Steven Smith, head chef at the Freemasons Arms at Wiswell, said: “We filled our last table about a month ago and around 40 per cent of those bookings were made on Christmas Day last year.
“Some people have already started booking for next year before they have even come this year.
“It obviously takes a lot of stress out of the day for a lot of people.
“I think a lot of people have found their favourite pub for Christmas Day and want to stick to their new tradition every year now.”
Warren Smith, general manager at the Fence Gate Inn, said: “We filled up about two weeks ago and will host 190 people on Christmas Day.
“I think a lot of families are choosing to eat out to make it easier on themselves and so everyone can have a day to relax together.
“It’s a lot of stress to cook for a large family, after all. I cooked for 14 of my family a few years ago and I think it would have been a lot easier if we had gone out instead.”
Grant Madden, manager at Nino's Restaurant, said: “We have been booked up for three weeks and I think that’s because more and more people want to enjoy themselves on the big day instead of slaving over the stove.
“We will be catering for 250 people on Christmas Day and it has always been a very popular day for us.
“I think that this trend will continue for years and years to come and it’s a luxury that people are increasingly willing to afford themselves.”
Andy Morris, operations director at the The Clog and Billycock in Blackburn, said: “We have been booked up for three weeks now and we are still turning people away.
“I would be surprised if any pub in East Lancashire still has spaces left.
“I think this is a trend that will continue for years to come because there is definitely a demand for going out for Christmas dinner.
“We will be serving 130 people on the day and the Three Fishes in Mitton, which is also fully booked, will be catering for the same number.”
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