Belfast restaurateur Michael Deane received 1,000 bookings for one venue after announcing he would continue discounts following the runaway success of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
The chef said he would continue offering £10 off per person on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at some of his venues next month.
He said his Michelin-starred Eipic venue, with its Great British Menu-winning chef Alex Greene, would be offering discounts for two Wednesday nights in the month.
While the Eat Out to Help Out scheme is funded by the government for every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in August, Mr Deane said the trade boost meant it was worth extending it.
After announcing the September discounts on social media, his Deanes at Queen's venue received 5,000 phone calls and took bookings for 1,000 people.
Simon Hamilton, chief executive of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, said that if other venues followed Mr Deane's lead, it could mean a bumper autumn for eateries.
"After having to close in spring and early summer, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been great for getting people into restaurants," Mr Hamilton added.
"If places continue to offer discounts in September, that could be a great bridge between late summer and Christmas."
Mr Deane said the scheme had been a success for his venues Meat Locker, Love Fish, Deanes at Queen's and Deane & Decano.
Deanes Deli remains shut due to the lack of office workers in the city centre.
"People needed to get out of the house and feel like human beings again after lockdown, and it's definitely worked out," he told this newspaper.
Mr Deane said his business would only be breaking even this year due to the impact of lockdown and the costs of implementing social distancing and extra sanitising measures.
"We're already down an awful lot of turnover as there's no one coming through the airports, no conferences, no businesspeople going out for lunch," he added.
"Now we're going to have to stick our hands in our pockets to provide more reasons for people to go out in September, but that's just part of life and I have to keep bouncing the ball.
"In September I'm going to do exactly the same as the government had been doing because what we have to do is keep the economy driving and give people exactly the same deal."
People had a desire to be out and about, he said, adding: "We're social animals even when we are social distancing. I had 5,000 phone calls into Deanes at Queen's and we've had 1,000 people booked since we put it out on social media, even though with social distancing our table numbers have gone from 200 to 120."
Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said he "applauded" venues that were extending the discounts. "Not everyone can do it because obviously they're already running at reduced capacity and reduced margins. It would have been better if Westminster had stepped in and extended it," he added.
HMRC confirmed yesterday that there were no plans to extend the scheme.
Belfast Telegraph restaurant critic Joris Minne sounded a note of caution. "I would argue that a promotion should have a finite time limit before it starts creating a bad habit," he said.
"The risk is that consumer expectations of lower prices over a longer stretch of time can make it all the more difficult to readjust them to a viable level."
The Beannchor hospitality chain, which includes the Little Wing pizza restaurants and the Bullitt and Merchant hotels, said it was considering alternative offers for the future.
"The Beannchor venues aren't continuing with the specific Eat Out to Help Out scheme as such, but they are working on some different offers to fill the vacuum. These are in development at the moment," it added.
Colum McLornan, co-owner of the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle, said his staff would be having a well-earned break after high demand for the discounts.
"The scheme in Ballycastle has been a huge success. Every week we are full for coffee, lunch and dinner, plus afternoon tea. In fact, the afternoon tea has been one of the most popular item people have bought," he said.
"We are not planning to continue with the scheme ourselves in September. It has been an extremely busy August, so we plan to take stock next week, ensure our staff all get some time off and then look at offers and promotions for the end of September and the month of October."