• France's news in English
Furious French restaurant owner bans bankers
Alexandre Callet outside his restaurant with a sign that reads: "Dogs welcome, bankers banned". Photo: Alexandre Callet

Furious French restaurant owner bans bankers

The Local · 17 Feb 2016, 10:02

Published: 17 Feb 2016 10:02 GMT+01:00

Alexandre Callet, aged 30, who runs the gourmet restaurant Les Ecuries de Richelieu, has banned financiers not because he’s a “raving socialist” but because he believes in an ail for an ail*.

Callet is furious with the banking world after numerous firms turned down his request for a €70,000 ($78,000) loan to open a second eatery.

The blackboard outside his restaurant in Rueil-Malmaison, a well-to-do suburb to the west of Paris, normally displays the list of daily specials but it now reads: “Dogs welcome, bankers banned (unless they pay an entry fee of €70,000).

“I believe in reciprocity,” Callet told The Local on Wednesday. “I had to respond. ‘If you hit me, I’ll hit you’”.

“As soon as I see a banker that I recognize I won’t let them enter my restaurant.

“They have treated me like a dog, so I have denied them access.”

Callet says he felt humiliated given that he was only asking the banks for a loan of €70,000, which he says is “nothing” considering his turnover for last year - his best one yet - was €300,000.

“This is not just a kebab shop. My restaurant is in the Michelin guide and film stars come in here,” said Callet. “A lot of bankers who turned me down know me. They come in here.”

It’s not the first time Callet has had beef with the banks. When he tried to open his first restaurant, aged just 23, he says he was turned down over 20 times before one bank agreed to lend him money.

The 30-year-old says the banks' treatment of him is reflective of the shameful way business owners are treated in France by banks unwilling to lend money to young business owners.

“Restaurateurs, entrepreneurs, it's the same. We have to get on all fours,” he said.

“I have never had financial problems and yet I find myself in this situation. Bankers are not doing their job. That’s why we have so many businesses in France who have to resort to crowd funding.

“France has problems understanding this. That’s why London has become the sixth French city,” he said.

Story continues below…

“It’s the problem with our ‘socialism à la Française’. We have more civil servants than anywhere in the world, we have a social welfare system that has a bigger budget than the American defence budget.

“There’s the 35-hour week. There is globalization, yet our businesses are completely blocked. We can’t find oxygen,” said Callet who has been forced to ditch plans to open a second diner.

Callet says he has yet to turn away anyone on the grounds of being a banker, but if you work in a finance and fancy a bite to eat, it might be wise to dress down for the occasion.

*Ail of course is the French word for garlic. Please excuse us for not being able to resist this pun.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Eiffel Tower closes as workers join latest strike
Photo: AFP

The Iron Lady is on strike on Tuesday.

Labour law protests
Paris: 2,500 police on alert for new labour law protest
Police carry out bag checks at Thursday's protest. Photo: AFP

Paris is on high alert on Tuesday as the city is set to play host to the 11th demonstration against new labour reform bill, which will be voted on by the Senate on the same day.

French police lifeguards get guns for summer beach patrol
Photo: AFP

Keep an eye out for life guards with guns on beaches in France this summer.

What will change in France from July 2016
Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP

July will see some changes in France, and here's how you'll be affected.

France tells UK to hurry up and get on with EU divorce
Photo: AFP

"Don't waste any time," France tells UK. "We don't want anymore uncertainty."

French police hold ten after raids on luxury Paris stores
Photo: AFP

Have French police solved a series of armed raids of luxury boutiques?

New app aims to rid Paris pavements of dog poo
Photo: ByeBye Crottoir

No need to watch your step anymore, says this French engineer behind a new app called "Bye Bye Pavement Dog Poo"

Calls in France for English to be ditched as EU language
Photo: AFP

Some in France suggest it's time to end the dominance of English as the EU's working language, now that the UK has voted to leave the union.

Seven tips for selling your house in France
Photo: AFP

After the Brexit referendum there is already talk of British expats in France considering selling up. Here are seven tips put together by an expert.

British businesses in France told to keep calm and carry on
Brits celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday at the British embassy in Paris. Photo: UK in France/Flickr

Brits running their own businesses have been told that despite the Brexit vote, it should be "business as usual".

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Is working life better in London or Paris?
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
French police appear unprepared for hooligan threat at Euro 2016
An A to Z guide of what to expect in France for Euro 2016
jobs available