Is eating in the new eating out?


Yesterday saw the start of National Eating Out Week – but given our present economic climate, is the annual event somewhat misnamed?


By Kieran Beckles, Liz Cooley and Maria Vallahis

Enjoying time at home, with friends and family is the most common and fulfilling way to socialise.

And with more and more restaurants providing a take away service, and supermarkets offering meal deals, shoppers have more choice than ever.

So is eating in the new eating-out?

Yesterday saw the start of National Eating Out Week and the organiser Peter Grove admitted that in our present economic climate, his annual event is somewhat misnamed.

The charity purpose raising event in the past was based on the diversity and high standards of our restaurants but 2011 has called for a new approach.

Many restaurants are hitting back by doing their bit to keep costs down, offering early bird deals and special promotions.

However, most recognise they are going through a difficult period trying to balance the maintenance of high standards whilst trying to keep menu prices down.

“The quality of our restaurants is fantastic and envied worldwide, but whilst we would still encourage people to look for new and exciting dining experiences, we realise these may be fewer in number at present due to the economic climate,” said Mr Grove.

And some consumers in Wimbledon are choosing to stay at home and cook meals for a variety of reasons such as the increasing costs incurred when dining out.

Colliers Wood schoolteacher, Tarryn Bodeker, 25, said: “I prefer to stay in. I’d say we maybe get deals once a month but very rarely do we even do that. We have used vouchers a lot in the past but now once a month.”

With such hectic lifestyles others find it hard to juggle their professional and social lives to make time to eat out with family and friends.

Gale Adarkar, 33, recruitment consultant from West Kensington, agrees: “I live on ready meals but I don’t bother with voucher deals so much.

“If I want to go out then I do, it’s about time rather than money.”

Wimbledon resident Annabel Bowman, 23, added: “If we do eat it out it will be one day during the week and even that is a treat. It’s more a time thing than a money issue.”

Although cooking can be seen as a chore, many prefer to prepare their own meals at home and enjoy the rewarding experience.

Ken McHaffie, Wimbledon Tesco Duty Manager, said: “We have a two-for-£10 deal throughout the year – personally my wife loves cooking so we generally eat in.”

Wimbledon restaurants have reported that despite the eating-out market shrinking in Britain in 2010, they are as busy as ever.

According to Al Forno’s deputy manager the number of customers remains the same but they seem to be spending less.

 “Sometimes people come in and just have one dish or a glass wine with desert or sometimes they go for pizza and desert,” he said. “So it really depends.”

The Kings Road restaurant manager believes establishments can combat the economic downturn by providing good customers service and good food.

“We try to keep our regular customers coming back and treat them well. They know we are good for Italian food and they know we are here and our prices which are low compared to other prices,” he added.

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