RESTAURANTS who signed up the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme say they have been overwhelmed with customers this week.

Many were booked up for the three days while some had queues outside or had to close early due to demand.

The Government-funded offer gets diners eating in 50 per cent off their bills up to a total value of £10 per person at participating outlets every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in August.

You don’t need a voucher to use the scheme and you can use it at the same time as other offers and discounts. Businesses remove the discounted sum from the bill, which they will then be able to reclaim through HMRC’s online service.

Peter Clough, from the Hoghton Arms, said they had been fully booked for the past few days.

He said: “It has been a cracking response and we have been overwhelmed with customers.

“We were not quite prepared for the numbers on the first day (Monday) but it was very busy."

There were queues at a number of Blackburn establishments on Wednesday including Kaspa’s on Preston News Road and Waheed’s Banqueting Hall on Randal Street. Heavenly Desserts in the town centre was full with staff outside taking bookings.

Vaughns Country Cafe, off Tockholes Road, Darwen, is open during the day. Vaughn Lomax said: “I don’t think a lot of people understand the offer. There was definitely a pick-up in business on Wednesday as it is good offer.

Mr Lomax said they were hoping to carry the momentum into the weekend.

The Kebabish Original Restaurant in Whalley New Road, Blackburn, was open throughout the lockdown for collection only with a one-way system in place but has reopened to sit-in diners too.

A spokesman said: “It has been absolutely manic since the government discount scheme has been in place. We've had to close early to ensure we have ample time to have prepare and clean for the next day. But people are willing to wait.

“This week we got much busier and customers had to queue outside as we are restricted with capacity. People were queuing as families and staff were going out and trying their best to ensuring social distancing was kept between groups.

“A council officer has been into the restaurant and commended us for the good practice we have here.”

Meanwhile, some smaller restaurants had chosen not to sign up to the scheme. The Khyber Restaurant in Blackburn closed for about a month after lockdown and reopened for take-outs in April.

Boss Salim Mohammed said: “We have not signed up to the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme as we simply do not have the capacity for sit-ins. Our take-outs have been really busy though, so much so that on some nights there is an hour and half waiting time. Our regulars have been ordering and we are thankful for their support.

“We are waiting for things to calm down and then we will have sit-ins. It is too dangerous for customers at the moment as we are only a small place.”