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Restaurant owner ‘heartbroken’ as high costs force family business to close

·4-min read

A restaurant owner who has had to close his family business due to soaring energy prices said he hopes protections will be put in place to help others.

David Haetzman, 49, was forced to shut his restaurant, the Firebrick Brasserie in Lauder, near Edinburgh, earlier in August.

The chef told the PA news agency: “We’re heartbroken and pretty distraught. Obviously we have put a lot into the business over the last seven years.

David Haetzman, 49, had to shut the doors to his restaurant, the Firebrick Brasserie in Lauder, Scotland, this week
David Haetzman has had to shut his restaurant, the Firebrick Brasserie in Lauder, Scotland, due to rising costs (Amanda Jordan/PA)

“We’re very passionate about what we do and it’s pretty heartbreaking to have to close.

“The cost-of-living crisis, and in particular the energy prices, is the thing that sent us over the edge.”

Mr Haetzman said he made the difficult decision after the restaurant’s energy bills shot up from £1,000 a month to nearly £4,000.

He said: “The last few years have been very difficult with Covid, which we managed to get through. The price in base ingredients increased and all of our prices went through the roof.

“It was impossible for us to make that sustainable. Customers were still coming through the door but they spent less, as their cost of living increased too.”

The closure of the restaurant inevitably led to redundancies.

Mr Haetzman said: “It’s really hard. We had a small team but a really good team for a long time, and it’s very difficult to let people go.”

His three children, Alex, 23, Charlie, 17, and Sophie, 15, were also working in the family business.

“It’s a sad day for all of us. What we will miss the most is serving our customers. We are very passionate about producing good food,” he said.

“The hustle and bustle of working, doing our own thing and being proud of what we’re doing – that’s now going to be a huge miss.”

Mr Haetzman also owns a bakery with his partner, Amanda Jordan, 52, who is a trained pastry chef.

He said: “The bakery isn’t quite as bad in terms of energy usage, but we are still concerned with energy prices and it’s still a massive issue.”

Mr Haetzman hopes a price cap for businesses will be introduced, so energy providers “can’t just charge us what they like”.

Sarah Laker, 52, owns a stationery shop in Marple in Cheshire and one in nearby Wilmslow and has had to increase prices to keep her business afloat, saying her electricity bill quintupled in the space of two years.

Ms Laker told PA: “Stock prices have risen dramatically – paper in particular.

“Per ream of paper, I now pay what I used to charge my customers. It has literally doubled in price.

“We used to sell our paper at £4.25 a ream, now we’re selling it at £7.”

Ms Laker said that in October 2020 her electricity bills came to £70 a month, a year later they were £170, and the new quote she has been given is £360 a month – five times what she was paying two years earlier.

The entrepreneur, from Glossop in Derbyshire, said: “We are going to really struggle. We can’t absorb all those price rises because otherwise we wouldn’t be viable anymore, so we had to put our prices up.

“We would need to increase our turnover by nearly £1,000 a month to cover the increased costs. I don’t know how to sustain my business long term like this.

“I’ve been adapting and changing so much over the last two years and I don’t know how much more of that I can do. I just hope I can survive this storm.”

Ms Laker has five part-time staff working with her across both shops and she has already taken a pay cut to keep the business running.

Sarah Laker, 52, owns a stationary shop in Marple and one in Wilmslow (both Cheshire) and had to increase prices to keep her business afloat
Sarah Laker owns two stationery shops in Cheshire and has had to increase prices to keep her business afloat (Sarah Laker/Molly Laker/PA)

She said letting go any of her employees is “the last thing” she would do.

Her staff include her daughter, Molly Laker, 27.

“My daughter had a mental health break at university, after which she struggled to hold down a job,” she said.

“We took on the second shop two years ago for her to come work for me, to get her back into a better place and support her.

“It’s become a family business. She’s one of the reasons I’m determined for the shops to survive this storm, because I need to do that for her.”