British Government to Pick up Half the Tab When Dining Out in August

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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The British government plans to pick up half the cost of the meal for anyone who dines out at a restaurant in that country. Well, up to £10 ($12.59) of the cost, not including alcohol. It’s an effort to boost the hospitality sector, which, as in the U.S., has been particularly negatively affected by the pandemic.

The incentive, called Eat Out to Help Out, was announced Wednesday by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Despite the 10 quid limit, the discount may be used unlimited times throughout August and at any restaurant, even posh one, like the Dean Street Townhouse in London's SoHo district, where I took the photo at top last year. But it’s limited to on-premise dining and only Monday through Wednesday. The restaurants will make the deduction on the customers' checks and will be reimbursed by the government.

Still, it’s a nice effort from the government.

Star InnFenceStar Inn via Facebook

And in other news from Britain, a pub owner in St. Just in Cornwall county at the southern tip of the island has found a way to keep patrons socially distanced when getting their orders.

Jonny McFadden, owner of the Star Inn, has strung wiring around the bar with a sign that says, “Warning, electric fence."

McFadden has told reporters that the fence “is not usually turned on,” but the thought that it could be seems to be keeping people back from the bar.

I encourage the U.S. government and Central Florida bar owners to steal either of these ideas.

Newsy Nuggets: Magical Dining, Drinks To Go and Other Stuff

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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As of now, Visit Orlando is planning to go ahead with its Magical Dining Aug. 28 through Oct. 4. It will be the 15th year for the event formerly known as Magical Dining Month. Magical thinking? For those unfamiliar with the popular promotion, participating restaurants offer a $35 three-course menu, which often means big savings over the restaurant’s regular menu. One dollar from every meal sold goes to charity. Currently, no restaurants are listed on the official Magical Dining website. My question: Will the meals be available for takeout?

Oh hey, did you see where Florida had another record number of positive coronavirus test results? Sad news, but if you want to drown your sorrows with a drink from your favorite bar, it’s going to have to be one for the road – governor Ron DeSantis has extended the on-premise consumption ban for bars indefinitely.

Lessons Learned: What Some Restaurant Owners have Done to Adjust

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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Approaching four months into the pandemic, I checked in with some area restaurateurs to see how they’re adjusting and what lessons they’ve learned to keep up with the changing demands.

Alex Martinez of Stefano’s Trattoria says he’s learned that the right packaging is key for takeout. “Shortly after closing the dining room, we recognized the importance of going from styrofoam to plastic microwaveable containers,” he said.

Martinez also said that he learned that delivering food is not easy if you’ve never done it before. “This can be challenging when you have no experience,” he said. Like so many other restaurant owners, he sees third-party delivery apps as necessary. And online ordering, too.

Newsy Nuggets: La Cantina, 4 Rivers and Roots, and a Magical Dinner

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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Linda’s La Cantina, Central Florida’s oldest restaurant (est. 1947), took a planned vacation that was to last a week, from June 30 through July 6. However, during that time, the restaurant’s chef and butcher tested positive for COVID-19. So needless to say the restaurant did not open on Tuesday as planned. A post on the restaurant’s Facebook page Wednesday said that all other employees have tested negative for the virus and stated: “This lets us know that all the Precautions we have enacted are working. This also tells us that our customers are not coming to dine sick.” I’m not an epidemiologist, but I’m not sure that last part is necessarily true.

The chef, identified in the posts only as Steve and as the restaurant’s backbone for 41 years, is still sick, according to Wednesday’s post, and the steakhouse will not reopen until he’s well. Kudos to Linda’s for its transparency.