Energy bills force café owner to shut up shop

A POPULAR little café has closed its doors this weekend due to what its owner called “astronomical” utility bills.

W Gardens in Bawtry Road, Wickersley, has gone through a massive revamp this year but owner Phil Tunstill said the cost of living crisis had put it out of business on Saturday.

“We’ve had electric bills for the last six months for £1,800 a month,” he said.

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“This café is just not big enough. I know pubs that pay £500 a month.

“It is just astronomical. It’s left us in a precarious position.”

Phil said he did not want to put the blame on anyone but not being allowed to open outdoor seating by the council had made an impact.

He said: “We paid the application fee, sent over plans. I even paid for a special system they expect us to use.

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“We’ve lost quite a lot of business by not being allowed to have outdoor seating.

“The cost of living expense has just made it really difficult for people to go out and eat, and we’ve still got bills to pay.

“Since I’ve taken over (in March), I’ve probably spent about £50,000 trying to create something nice and different.

“We just can’t afford to pay the bills with the reduced custom we’ve got.

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“When the shop shuts, I’m going to be left with about £10,000 debt, which I'll have to arrange to pay back everybody.

“I’m not going to blame the council or the cost of living but it didn’t help.”

Phil said he had always wanted to be involved in the hospitality sector but it's been hard.

“It’s been tough – blood, sweat, tears, money, you name it,” he said.

“We did a full renovation and made it a lot bigger inside.

“It’s been a tough ride the last seven months or so.

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“It’s upsetting (to be closing). I own a utility business in Rotherham. I love food and cooking and I always wanted to be involved.

“There’s a lot of emotion flying around at the moment.

“It’s not nice letting the staff know they’ve got no jobs any more. I’ve done everything I could.

“It got to a point where my finances don’t allow me (to keep going).

“It’s sad — we’ve got a lot of regulars they’ll be sorry to see us go.”