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Eat Out to Help Out in Wales – food & drink businesses campaign for public to ‘Eat Independent, Support Local’

Independent food and drink businesses in Wales are calling on the public to ‘eat independent, support local’ when the “Eat Out to Help Out” discount scheme launches on Monday 3 August.

The UK Government programme is covering the costs of a half price discount on eating out (up to the value of £10) on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August.

By choosing to use the discount to eat with independent food and drink venues, customers will be directing that government support to those small businesses, high streets and communities who need it the most.

That is the message from the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective, a group of over 300 local food & drink businesses which formed in May to help the sector through lockdown.

Simon Wright, restaurateur, food writer and owner of Wright’s Food Emporium in Llanarthne, is a founding member of the collective. He explained:

“This is a critical time for food and drink businesses in Wales. Making businesses work with social distancing and reduced capacity is a huge challenge. And while many of our independent cafes, bars and restaurants have adapted to be able to carry on serving their customers and communities through lockdown, it’s been nowhere near our normal levels of trading.

“Independent food and drink businesses are the heart and soul of high streets, towns and villages throughout Wales. By employing local people, working with other independent producers and using neighbourhood services, they’re keeping money circulating in the local economy. That’s beneficial to us all.

“They’re also creating a more interesting and sustainable dining experience. Being closer to local suppliers often can often mean food hasn’t travelled as far and will be in season. And being independent means greater freedom in the kitchen to experiment and reflect local tastes.”

The Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective was formed by a group of restaurant-owners to give a stronger voice to the sector. Calculating that lockdown and social distancing measures had put 30,000 jobs at risk in Wales, the Collective is campaigning for greater support from government at all levels.

Independent food and drink businesses are a central part of Wales’ tourism offer, are vital for high street footfall and have a crucial role in supporting the farming, hospitality and local service sectors.

These businesses include Milkwood, The Lansdowne and The Grange, owned by Cerys & Tom Furlong. They said: “The venues we have opened, operated and loved in Cardiff for the last ten years have all been characterised by our ethos of supporting independent Welsh food producers, brewers and wine suppliers. We believe passionately in the quality of Welsh produce and producers, and we want our food to have the shortest journey to the plate, ensuring low food and drink miles as well as supporting a local supply chain.

Pawel Wisniewski, of Paul’s Organic Veg grows fruit and veg on his 17 acre plot outside Abergavenny with his wife and a team of four. He said: “The independent restaurants we work with – from neighbourhood bistros to Michelin starred chefs – are a really important part of our business. The contracts we have to supply restaurants in Cardiff and around us here in Monmouthshire give us the security of regular income which is good for business and for employing staff. With some, we’re planning a year ahead so we can grow specialist varieties just for them. Eating at these independent places is definitely supporting us and our local team.”.

You can show support for the ‘Eat Independent, Support Local’ campaign by using the hashtag #EatIndieWales on social media whenever you eat at your favourite local restaurants.