Inflation, Denis Toullec observes it from a fortified dungeon: he sees it coming from all walks of life, but remains relatively preserved from it. The dungeon is his hotel-restaurant in Saint-Lon-les-Mines, a village in the Landes where coal mines no longer exist except in the museum and where the Basque influence begins – the pediment serves as a flag . To the south of Dax, two buildings make up the Logis Hôtel Gnàc é Pause – “a bite and a rest”it’s Gascon –: nineteen well-kept rooms, a small seminar room and one of the good restaurants in the area.
His hotel did not really experience the crisis, a refuge during the confinements and a hostel for small pleasures during two summers back in the countryside. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he maintained his expansion work, financed with the help of the European agricultural fund: he welcomes this.
“In March 2020, I hesitated to maintain the works. Today, with the ambient instability, it would be worse”, admits Denis Toullec, who took over the hotel with his wife in 2014, with no experience in the business. He talks about rising prices, about the war in Ukraine, about consumption which could slow down, but all this is basically to talk: if anything has changed in France, he hasn’t noticed. “Inflation, we feel it coming, we hear about it…”
Avian flu, wheat and fishing oil
With eight employees, 80 covers and a brand new establishment, he is still able to play around with increases and keep his prices unchanged, so as not to offend a loyal but cautious clientele. Golden rule in rural areas: do not be the first to increase the price of the menu. This is not the case for chain brands, which are beginning to pass on inflation, especially on weekends for leisure customers, notes the MKG firm.
Mr. Toullec, a serious boss, takes out his income statements, a criterion, large-squared sheets, and opens the calculator application on the phone: in the last financial year “regular”, completed in September 2019, food and beverage purchases accounted for 31% of its expenses. He reviews the rises of the last few months, and it’s all the hassles of the world that parade. Beef ? Less supply, still as much demand. Duck ? At a standstill, with avian flu. At the end of the crisis, the scarcity will be paid for, especially since the corn with which the ducks are stuffed also increases. Basque pork? The cost is in the food, so the wheat; in December 2021, he took 20 cents per kilo, or 3%, but that is only just beginning. Fish ? Plus one at the auction, three weeks ago, when the trawlers were rationed with diesel. The local beer? Kegs gained 6% in January, to offset the cost of cardboard, labels and glass bottles. The rise in cereals has not yet been passed on.
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