Big Eat scheme to boost Leicester's restaurants was big success
Thousands of people poured into Leicester yesterday evening to enjoy an event aimed at boosting the city's night-time economy.
More than 50 restaurants, cafes and bars offered cut-price deals as part of Big Eat 2 – timed to coincide with Leicester's Comedy Festival.
The event created a buzz throughout the city, transforming the normal Tuesday night lull into a bustling night, where many restaurants were forced to turn people away.
City bosses are hoping that the Big Eat events will help attract people from the surrounding areas into the city centre – and then keep them coming back.
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It follows a similar event last October and is part of the city's efforts to show that Leicester has a great range of venues where everyone can enjoy an evening out.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "The Big Eat is absolutely brilliant, and the first one last October was wonderful as well.
"Over recent years, Leicester's restaurants have improved enormously, but I think they all find that they can be below capacity on midweek evenings.
"The great advantage of the Big Eat is that it lets people experience the enormous range of quality, value and different styles on offer."
Last night, 52 restaurants, bars and cafes took part, compared to 39 that participated in the first Big Eat in October.
Zucchero, which serves up world buffets, drew in more than 200 customers with its "two dine for £12" deal.
Customers were entertained by a live saxophonist and singer.
Matthew Sullivan, 71, who was with his wife June, 62, said: "I think it great, it's the first time we've been here and I'm sure we'll come back.
"Our friends saw the review of the restaurant in the Mercury so we thought we'd come and give it go."
The Charles Street restaurant's managing director, Sam Fugill, said the night was a roaring success, but regretted having to turn people away.
"We've been full the entire night and actually had to turn about 60 people away. It's been really successful."
At Kayal, in Granby Street, those who did not book were also disappointed.
Director Jaimon Thomas said: "We've done very well tonight, but it's not about how much money we make in one night, it's about getting people to come back.
"We've had to turn about 50 people away, which we don't really like doing, but it shows how popular tonight has been."
Organisers were keen to run Big Eat again following the feedback from last year.
City centre director Sarah Harrison said 80 per cent of those who took part last year saw an increase in customer numbers on that night and more than a third said their revenue increased by 60 per cent.
There were 10 per cent whose revenue doubled.
Ms Harrison said: "We know that this didn't take away from trade on the other nights of the week, but was on top of it. This just creates a buzz in the city."