Leeds pub facing £5,500-a-month energy bills is forced to close its kitchen and let its chef go

The hospitality sector is seeing its first dominoes fall as struggling pub landlords facing spiralling prices and energy bills are forced to make ‘tough decisions’ to keep their businesses afloat.

One pub in Leeds said it has no option but to shut its kitchen and let go of its chef after ‘out of control’ energy bills spiralled to £5,500 per month – up from £900 a month last year. 

Meanwhile, another publican today told MailOnline that he had sat down his staff and warned them that come October 1, when the energy price cap rises by 80 per cent, he may have to cut opening hours or shut completely. 

The Railway Inn in Rodley, West Yorkshire, which has served food for the last decade, has said it can no longer keep on its chef Garth Kirsten-Landman due to the crippling costs and said it was making the decision to close its kitchen ‘for the foreseeable future’ in a bid to save the rest of the business.

Publican Chris Gill said when he took over the family pub around two years ago, he was paying 12.5 per kilowatt. 

Around the end of last year, this rose to 31p and now Mr Gill said he was quoted a whopping 64p per kilowatt, causing him to have to make some ‘tough decisions’. 

The Railway Inn in Rodley, Leeds (pictured) said it has been forced to close its kitchen and let its chef go because of 'fuel and food costs rising out of control'

The Railway Inn in Rodley, Leeds (pictured) said it has been forced to close its kitchen and let its chef go because of ‘fuel and food costs rising out of control’

Chef Garth Kirsten-Landman (pictured) has been let go from the Railway Inn in Rodley due to soaring living costs. He had been working at the canal-side pub since 2020

Chef Garth Kirsten-Landman (pictured) has been let go from the Railway Inn in Rodley due to soaring living costs. He had been working at the canal-side pub since 2020 

‘We’ve been forced to shut our kitchen down because of the up and coming bills. They’ve gone up from £800 or £900 a month at the beginning of last year to us looking at paying £5,500 a month,’ Mr Gill told LeedsLive.

‘We’ve sadly had to make the tough decision to let go of our chef Garth due to the fuel and food prices rising out of control.

‘I think he had an idea it would be coming – we’ve been busy over summer but with this latest rise and all the other things we just couldn’t sustain it.

‘It’s a sign of the times. We had to do it to save the rest of the pub.’

As well as grappling with extortionate energy bills, the pub’s kitchen had also been struggling with the increased costs of buying food items, such as butter and eggs.

‘It was an awful decision to make, I didn’t like doing it,’ Mr Gill added.

‘Obviously we made sure Garth had the proper notice of the decision and luckily he’s been able to find another job. We’ve had loads of messages about it from customers saying they’re sorry we’re in this position.

‘To help us we need people to keep coming out for a drink here and supporting their local businesses. I’m happy for people to order in now we don’t have a kitchen – that means they can still enjoy the pub and a family meal while helping us and hopefully some local takeaways.’

The inn wished chef Garth, who had been working there since 2020, luck in a social media post, where they explained their decision to closing the kitchen for the foreseeable future.

The Railway Inn posted on social media that it was making the 'tough decision' to close its kitchen and let go of its chef Garth on August 28

The Railway Inn posted on social media that it was making the ‘tough decision’ to close its kitchen and let go of its chef Garth on August 28

The post read: ‘We are saying goodbye to our chef Garth today. We have had to make some tough decisions, unfortunately our kitchen will be closed from now and the forseeable future …… this is because fuel and food costs are rising out of control , we wish you well for the future and know you will give 110% to whatever you decide to do.’

The Railway Inn is among businesses struggling to make ends meet amid spiralling energy costs and the cost-of-living crisis, with Real Ale campaign group executive Tom Stainer warning that pub landlords are facing five to six times the usual running costs.

Mr Gill continued: ‘I’ve just heard about another Leeds pub nearby that’s got a sign out saying the kitchen is closing. Everyone’s bills are going up.

‘We’re hoping we’ll have cut down enough with not having to run fridges and freezers to get us through the next price cap rise but we’re going to have to keep an eye on everything.

‘We’ll have to make sure we’re saving as much as possible as this all gets worse.

Life in Blackout Britain: Experts warn energy rationing this winter could see people told not to cook until after 8pm, pubs close at 9pm, ‘three-day-a-week’ school, and swimming pools left unheated 

The scale of energy rationing that may be required at home, in the NHS, schools, care homes, shops, pubs and on the streets of Britain because of surging energy prices and the threat of blackouts is laid bare today.

Experts have told MailOnline there is ‘no escape’ for the 66million people in the UK who will be encouraged to cut their use of gas and electricity this winter and even turn off the lights when the wind drops. 

Kathryn Porter, from consultancy Watt-Logic, fears that the crisis will cost lives in the coming months and told MailOnline: ‘We should keep our fingers crossed for a warm and windy winter’. Ms Porter has said that it’s ‘very possible’ the UK will see plans for energy rationing, despite Liz Truss, the likely next prime minister, absolutely ruling it out, but the energy expert added: ‘It would be voluntary, asking people to make a small sacrifice to avoid blackouts’.

Today it emerged that Britons could be asked to limit energy use this winter to head off blackouts by avoiding using gas and electricity at peak times in a move that will hit every part of life.

At home people may be encouraged not to use washing machines, dishwashers and ovens between 2pm and 8pm while charging cars before 9pm is also not advised when similar measures were imposed in the US this year. Abandoning the family weekday dinner at 6pm or the Sunday roast at 5pm may be required and moved to after 8pm or swapped for a cold dinner or leftovers.

The NHS Confederation has predicted that the solution for the health service will ‘have to be made up by fewer staff being employed, longer waiting times for care, or other areas of patient care being cut back’. NHS England guidance says staff must turning off equipment and lights and better control temperatures in hospitals and surgeries. 

Schools have even discussed three-day weeks and classes could be combined to reduce the number of rooms that require heating each day. 

While care homes are being forced to take drastic action to absorb soaring living costs such as reducing menu options, using washing machines less and cutting down on entertainment and outdoor trips for elderly and vulnerable residents. 

Pubs are already turning out the lights as soaring energy bills hit the ailing hospitality sector – with last orders at 8.30pm and closing by 9pm, food service being stopped and skeleton teams running venues to avoid financial ruin. Beer gardens are even being shut at night to save costs.

And councils may choose to copy Germany where street lights are being dimmed, traffic lights at quieter junctions are turned off, hot water and central heating is off in public buildings and monuments will no longer be lit overnight. UK municipal swimming pools could be made colder to reduce heating bills.

‘It’s scary. And everything is increasing for everybody – it’ll be tough persuading people to come out and have a drink as they start to feel the bite of rising bills and food and mortgages.

‘I suppose it’ll be better to be together in the pub, and we’ll try use our open fire rather than the heating when it’s not too cold.

‘We’re only going to see more of this, especially as people come out of contracts and agreements they’ve had and their costs go up. That will make it much worse.’

Meanwhile, another publican told MailOnline today he had sat down his staff and warned them that come October 1, he may have to cut opening hours or shut completely.

Ben Stanford, 41, who runs the George and Dragon Inn in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, said his gas and electricity bills had more than tripled from £17,000 to £76,000 a year.

Mr Stanford said he would have to raise the cost of a pint to £12 and charge around £42 for a meal of fish and chips in order to match the increase in running costs that he now faces. 

‘If we were following the exact metric, we’d be looking in the region of £12 a pint and about £42 for a portion of fish and chips,’ he said.

‘We’re not doing that, but it’s just to illustrate how much of an increase it is to us.’

He has also seen a 15 to 20 per cent increase in the cost of buying food items within the last year, such as meat and poultry items. 

Its means the pub landlord had to sit his 13 staff down recently to tell them that cripplingly high living costs could close the pub before winter.

‘Everything’s on the table at the moment,’ he told MailOnline.

‘We’ve sat down with the staff about a month ago and said, “this is on the horizon, we don’t want you to get a shock on October 1 if we’ve changed the opening hours or won’t be able to open at all.

‘So if you guys feel you need to go and look for job opportunities, we’re not going to stand in your way.”‘

In a bid to try to reduce his energy bill, Mr Stanford said he had already cut down the time food is served and was considering installing electric timers on his fridges and solar panels on the building.

‘We don’t serve food on Monday and do a limited menu on a Tuesday night and then a full menu for the rest of the week.

‘But at the moment, we could fast forward two weeks and end up doing Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and just dropping the rest of the week for food.’

The pub, which dates back to the 1640s, is at the heart of the community, having served Sunday lunches to elderly residents throughout the pandemic and has also run Ukraine appeals to raise money for refugees.

Mr Stanford said ‘there would be a negative feeling around the town’ if the pub were to close.

‘We’re right on the High Street. The town is known for the pub because it’s been here for so long, it’s known by locals.

‘There would be a real negative feeling if the pub wasn’t there for the town.’

Last week, chair of the British Chambers of Commerce, Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, warned that two-thirds of pubs could face closure, risking hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Some publicans are going to extraordinary lengths to avoid financial ruin, including calling last orders hours earlier, reducing menu options and running on skeleton teams.

Melissa Evans, 47, who has been in the industry for 21 years and a landlady for the last three and a half, said she the only way she has been able to cope so far is by running a skeleton team and often working for free herself. 

Utilities bills at The Plough have risen from £8,000 a year for gas and electricity to nearer £33,000 just for gas, its landlady has said

Melissa Evans, 47, who has been in the industry for 21 years, said the rise in prices is beyond laughable

The Plough, in Whitstable, Kent, has seen its utilities bills skyrocket from £8,000 to £33,000

Her pub, The Plough, in Whitstable, Kent, has seen its utilities bills skyrocket from around £8,000 for utilities to £33,000 for gas alone in recent months.

‘I’ve had to think differently on how to run the pub,’ Ms Evans said.

‘Weekdays we now close around 9pm, we only really use our restaurant area at weekends to save on staff costs.’

‘We are a small team, some weeks we could do with a few more of us, but we’ve all decided so no one loses money we all do a bit longer when needed. I work lots of shifts as obviously I’m ‘free’ labour.’ 

The Ye Olde Fleece Inn in Kendal, which dates back to 1654, has seen a huge increase of £80,000 to its annual electricity bill, which it is already struggling to manage.

The director of Ye Olde Fleece, Chris Moss, said: 'Our biggest costs are staff and fuel... I am not getting any salary'

The director of Ye Olde Fleece, Chris Moss, said: ‘Our biggest costs are staff and fuel… I am not getting any salary’

The historic pub currently pays £44,000 for its electricity bill, but was last week quoted £124,000 which its owners expect to come in this autumn.

Chris Moss, a director of Westmorland Hospitality, which runs the Fleece, said he has had to roll his sleeves up to keep costs down.

He worked as an emergency doctor before moving into the industry four years ago, and told the MailOnline that the current crisis facing the sector means ‘it is now easier to run an A&E department than a pub’.

Last week, pubs and breweries wrote to the Government to warn they face going bust amid soaring energy costs, with some claiming bills have rocketed by 300 per cent.

In an open letter, bosses of six of the UK’s biggest pub and brewing companies called on the Government to act now to avoid ‘real and serious irreversible’ damage to the sector.

Last week six of the UK's leading pubs and breweries warned the Government they face closure without urgent Government intervention (stock image)

Last week six of the UK’s leading pubs and breweries warned the Government they face closure without urgent Government intervention (stock image)

Greene King, JW Lees, Carlsberg Marston’s, Admiral Taverns, Drake & Morgan and St Austell Brewery have all demanded urgent support. 

Emma McClarkin, chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said: ‘This rise in energy costs will cause more damage to our industry than the pandemic did if nothing is done in the next few weeks, consumers will now be thinking even more carefully about where they spend their money.

‘There are pubs that weathered the storm of the past two years that now face closure because of rocketing energy bills for both them and their customers.

‘If we lose them, we not only lose businesses and the jobs that go with them, but also the beating heart of communities across the country where people gather in times of need. We need an energy cap for businesses before it’s too late.’

The energy price cap set by regulator Ofgem will jump by up to 80 per cent in October to reflect the rising cost of wholesale energy. 

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