It is with a heavy heart that Renee Bowles will close his beloved snack bar in Wallwick. With energy prices constantly rising, after 33 years, he sees no other way out for ‘t Heike. “Tears come to my eyes, but it’s no different.”
In the many years that Renee has run the snack bar with his wife, Miranda, they’ve experienced price hikes before. Potatoes have become more expensive and the price of energy has often gone up. Renee used to pass this on to clients. “But that was a small difference. Now that’s no longer the case. French fries will cost at least twice as much,” explains Rene.
He doesn’t want his customers to pay about six euros for regular french fries with mayonnaise. “You can’t do that,” he says firmly. Moreover, customers are also likely to say: “Wait, we’ll bake them at home.”
“People are so empathetic, it’s overwhelming.”
Renee started baking potato chips when he was a young boy. “I started in my neighborhood cafeteria when I was 15. I really liked it and that’s how I got into it.” And with success, because his snack bar in Walwick is popular with local residents.
“We announced on Facebook on Saturday that we were going to stop and we got a lot of feedback,” says Renee. “People are so sympathetic, it’s overwhelming,” he continues, with a small shiver in his voice. “It brings tears to my eyes,” he says.
“We work at Eneco”
Frans van Rooij of the trade association ProFri previously stated that 70 percent of the Dutch chip shop sector is in need. Renee knows that many colleagues try to reduce costs by adjusting working hours.
He tried it himself, but because energy prices aren’t going down, it doesn’t help. It had already risen by 1,300 euros at the beginning of the year, and in October another 1,800 euros was added, he says frustrated. “I’m so sorry, but staying open doesn’t do anything anymore; we work at Eneco.”
Now the chipmaker from Waalwijk has made the difficult decision to give up. A decision he would not have had to make had it not been for the crisis. “I really like being in the chip shop, but the fun is gone. We don’t see any other solution.” However, Renee and Miranda keep the door open to reopen it in the future if energy prices fall again.
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