Coffee shop owner’s shock and fears for the future after energy bill of nearly £10,000

by Shane Gibson

Coffee & Pitta House is a small family run Greek restaurant which Anna Xotza and her parents Beyi and Agim opened in Filton in March 2022. Open seven days a week, the Coffee & Pitta House, serves food and drink throughout the day and supplies free internet access to all customers. However Anna’s most recent energy bill may lead to doubts over its future.

February’s bill was £9801.80. A month’s usage of electricity alone was £5909.69, for the period of 25/01/23 – 24/02/23.

Anna’s normal monthly charge is around £2500 and she was shocked by the sudden increase.

She said: “The energy bills have always been a big issue. I thought that I was paying a very high amount when I was paying £2500 – £3000 per month, and then I got this bill. When I got it I thought I was having a heart attack!”

Anna qualifies for the government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme, however at a reduction of 1.01p per kilowatt that reduction is only £145.79 against £5909.69. The reduction is made before the Standing Charge and Climate Change Levy have been taken into account. Once they have, the real difference to the bill is £3.23.

“If the government is about to help… well this is not helpful. It is like they are playing with us. This is a small business, and a small business cannot afford this.” Anna added.

To help reduce the costs, Anna has switched off the heating in the cafe.

“Sometimes people ask why it is so cold in here. They are complaining and it is totally understandable, but this is what we have to deal with.” she said.

Anna is now needing to increase the prices of the food that they serve.

“Basically, we are just trying to see how things are going to go this year. We were open a year on March 8 and I do not want us to go bankrupt straight away, who wants that?” she said.

Anna is trying to pay off the bill slowly and is trying to get out of the contract with her current energy supplier.

She is also is hoping that the energy costs will lower and that the relationships that her family has with the people in Filton will continue to thrive.

She said: “We have only been here a year, but Filton has been very kind to us. When we first moved in, we had no internet, so whilst looking for somewhere that I could sit and work, pay bills, drink coffee, I decided that this place wouldn’t just serve great food but it would be somewhere that people could come to all day. Have breakfast, use the internet, have lunch meetings, and drink coffee on the terrace in the evenings. Now, everybody in this neighbourhood knows us.”

Anna’s family chose to open up in Filton, primarily due to her father’s health.

She said: “My father has leukaemia, but he wanted to feel like he could still work. My mum has over 20 years of experience cooking Greek food. We don’t have a day off here, my parents are normally working from 8:30 in the morning until 11 in the evening. Sometimes we must close to take my father to the hospital, but we do come back!”

Although they do have the support of their friends and customers, Anna is worried about the current bill.

She said: “I am putting away as much money aside as possible for this bill, but at the end of the day there are a lot of other things to pay for and I only make £700 per month for myself. It’s a lot of work for that amount of money.”

Anna is optimistic, but says further large bills could force her to consider closure.