Bar stops draught beer due to soaring electricity bills in west France

The Bar du lac is the last remaining commerce in a 280-person village and is popular among British people living nearby

The bar du Lac draught beer will be a relic of the past while electricity bills remain high
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The owner of a village brasserie in western France has told how he has stopped serving draught beer in a bid to limit his skyrocketing electricity bills.

Renato Fabbri, 53, the owner of the Bar du lac in 280-resident Saint-Paul-le-Gaultier (Sartre), 50 kilometres north of Le Mans, has seen his electricity bill jump from €190 to €400/month. In addition he faces a €1,000 regularisation charge in February.

He has also switched his coffee system to a Nespresso machine as it and his beer pumps were running 24/7.

“Beer is my main concern because my clientele likes draught beer,” Mr Fabbri told The Connexion, adding that the bar is popular among British residents living nearby since its last two owners were British and it still hosts a weekly ‘British Friday’.

He estimated that 10% of the village population hang out in the bar, adding that another shutdown of the brasserie would be dramatic for the community.

He and his Ukrainian-Belarussian wife Oksana took the bar on in February 2022 after they successfully applied to SOS Villages, a platform created by French channel TF1 in a bid to revitalise rural businesses.

The mairie offered the couple the chance to live in an apartment above the bar rent-free for 18 months in exchange for the money they would be putting into keeping the business going and maintaining a sense of community around it.

The couple will pay their first month of rent next June at €150/month. Mr Fabbri said that the British people who previously owned the bar – both local residents – left because they struggled with the language barrier.

“I have not paid myself for the past year,” said Mr Fabbri, adding that he had heard of other brasserie owners having taken similar decisions to stop serving draught beer in order to save money.

Renato Fabbri and his Ukraino-Belarus wife Oksana. Photo credit: Renato Fabbri

The decision was also motivated by the rising cost of various products and stock shortages affecting many food and drink items.

He is not the only one having to take measures to make ends meet. French newspapers having reported of boulangeries hit with huge electricity bills, and other brasserie owners closing during lunch to cope with a 400% increase in their electricity bills.

So far, the Bar du lac’s clientele has been understanding and supportive of Mr Fabbri’s decision.

Mr Fabbri claims the Nespresso coffee tastes better than that produced by the coffee machine, and that his beer-drinking British clientele have moved more towards wine although he has also expanded his bottled beer range from six to nine brands.

He said he cancelled his subscription with French energy-supplier TotalEnergies and transitioned to EDF, which was offering a better price.

“I was able to save €200 a month. Let’s hope we can keep it that way,” he said, adding that his draught beer will not return while electricity prices remain the same.

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