Several restaurants have pulled out of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme because of “unwelcome behaviour” from some diners.
Some 85,000 restaurants signed up, but now several owners have spoken out about levels of “hostility” towards staff since the scheme started.
Kelly Hill, who runs the Tavern Inn in Newquay, told the BBC she had pulled out of the scheme because the demand has brought them “nothing but negativity”.
She said: "People are ordering big, big meals; they are not willing to wait for their food; our staff are being shouted at for having no tables, or for the service being slow. It's put an awful lot of strain on our waiting staff and kitchen staff.”
Waitress Claudia Casey, 22, described a recent experience during the campaign as the “worst night of my eight years in the hospitality industry.
Claudia, who works at a contemporary pub and restaurant in Nottinghamshire, told Yahoo News UK: “We’ve had a lot of eye rolls if we happen to run out of certain items on the menu, and being cut off when you’re trying to explain certain things and then turning their backs to us.”
She said that she “almost dreaded” how work nights will go now as a result of rude customers, but the scheme was a “good idea on paper”, but added: “I do understand why some [restaurants] have pulled out already.”
The team at the Paddock Inn in Tenby, Wales, aired their frustrations about the “extreme levels of rudeness” they had experienced from customers.
The bar, which only has one chef in the kitchen, wrote on Facebook: “The government's scheme doesn't really do much for us as the custom is already there but we decided to do it for you…
“During the promotional period there is almost always a wait on food, this is explained to everyone both when they book and when they place their orders at the bar.
“If you are incapable of understanding this then go and get a table elsewhere in Tenby.”
They added: “We are seriously considering pulling the plug on this due to the extreme levels of rudeness, lack of understanding, and complete impatience of some of our recent customers.”
The Heron Inn in Truro has pulled out of the scheme already, claiming recent customers had been posting negative reviews about it online.
The establishment wrote on Facebook: “We are very aware that our recent decision to withdraw from the Eat Out Scheme has upset a few people, but we will NOT tolerate any more ‘hospitality bullying’ from the likes of these people.”
They added: “With the increased amount of people visiting us, it is making it difficult for us to manage with social distancing rules in place.
“We have received unpleasant comments and general unwelcome behaviour from customers when they are unable to eat/drink/find a table due to us having reached capacity.”
Steph Dyer, landlady of the Westleigh Inn near Bideford in Devon, also confirmed the restaurant had pulled out of the scheme, which she said should not just be limited to August.
She said her staff had to endure “physical and mental stress, adding: “Everybody I have spoken to is finding it difficult to maintain standards of service.”
Eat Out to Help Out was introduced on 3 August, and means diners can have half of the cost of a meal, up to £10 a head, taken off the bill.
There is no limit to how much diners can take advantage of the discount, but it is only in place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the month.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak introduced the scheme in an attempt to kickstart the economy following months of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Treasury announced this week that more than 35 million half-price meals have been served by restaurants across the UK in the first two weeks of the scheme.
Around 48,000 different claims have so far been made for money back, the Treasury said.
The Treasury urged people to enjoy the scheme "as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle”.
Stephen Wall, co-founder of restaurant chain Pho, said: "The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has really been amazing.
"It's so nice to see our restaurants full of happy staff and customers again.”