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Lyon restaurants turn out the lights to protest soaring energy bills

Dozens of restaurants served dinner by candlelight to highlight enormous financial difficulties

Dozens of Lyon restaurants participated in the blackout to highlight difficulties due to soaring energy prices Pic: Alfira / Shutterstock

Restaurants in Lyon turned out the lights and served clients by candlelight on Tuesday (March 21) to protest against soaring energy bills.

Les Toques Blanches Lyonnaises, an association that represents a large number of chefs in Lyon, said the urgency was real.

“We, restaurateurs, are confronted with enormous financial difficulties due to the constant rise of energy prices,” the association said in a Facebook post.

“Energy bills have gone up drastically in 2023 and had a direct impact on our restaurant’s operating costs.

“Covid had already weakened the restaurant sector, despite state help. But the energy crisis we are currently going through is unprecedented and hits both the profitability of our restaurants and the spending power of our clients.”

Café Terroir, one of the 35 restaurants taking part in Tuesday’s initiative, told BFMTV that its energy costs had risen 80% in a year. 

Jean-François Têtedoie, the restaurant’s co-founder, said the candlelit evening would force his staff to change the way they run the service but that they felt it was an important demonstration to take part in.   

It is a similar story at M Restaurant, which says its electricity bills have doubled. 

Julien Gautier, the restaurant’s manager, supported the demonstrations saying the energy costs “can be complicated for restaurants that are a little tight financially, have few customers or for people who are just starting their business.”

Mr Gautier, who is a member of the association behind the demonstrations added that restaurateurs want to see energy prices frozen to allow businesses to assess what lies ahead and adapt. 

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