RECORD-BREAKING rises in energy bills, a drop in customers and the threat of another recession has left restaurants and cafes in Southend fearing for the future - with one business revealing its electricity bill will rocket to £40,000 a year.
The Bank of England has confirmed the biggest rise in interest rates in 30 years, while businesses are facing their gas and electricity bills tripling, leaving business owners scrambling to make ends meat.
Antony Tomassi, owner of Tomassi’s Italian restaurant in Southend High Street, revealed he may be forced to increase his prices, despite the number of customers being 15 per cent compared to last year as residents battle against the cost-of-living crisis.
The 66-year-old said: “I was paying £15,000 a year for electricity but it’s set to rise to £40,000 a year which is astronomical.
“I think it’s very serious and I am extremely worried about viability and we will have to increase our prices but will have to absorb some of the prices too.
“I think the restaurant sector is facing the toughest challenges of everyone with so many things and prices rising.
“We are not at pre-pandemic levels and we are about 15 per cent down from this. When you add the costs this is a significant drop in turn over and it cannot go on.”
Murat Ak, 33, owner of Cafe Munchies in Queens Road, Southend, fears that many small businesses will be unable to copy and could close within six months due to the impact.
He said: “I’ve been on a contract for my gas and electric bills but they are not set to rise by a huge amount.
“I was paying about £400 per month for gas but I expect this will go up to £1,200, and I was paying about £600 for electric but I expect this to rise to about £1,500.
“The impact of this is huge and I expect profits will be dropping.”
He fears some small businesses will not be able to cope and will close in the next six months.
Emma Fox, who runs Cafe 709 in Southchurch Road, with her husband Andy, said their customers numbers have dropped.
She said: “We are obviously very concerned with what’s happening in the economy.
“The price of energy is just going up and up and it’s having a huge impact on our business.”