Barrhead restaurant and pub owners fear the current energy crisis will do more damage to them than Covid.

They believe the massive hike in gas and electricity prices could be the final nail in the coffin for businesses that struggled to survive 18 months of closure during during the pandemic.

Jonathan Wengel, owner of the Cross Stobs Inn, said his electricity bill had gone up from £1,000 a month to £3,000.

He added: “While our sales have been good, any money we have made has been swallowed up by the increase in energy costs.

“It is unsustainable going forward. Our bank balance is not showing any growth.

“We are having to put things on hold like repairs and renovations to the pub and tighten our belts.

“After Covid, it is out of the frying pan and into the fire.

“I do not know how many more hits we can take. It is not about how much money or profit you make, it’s about survival.”

Jonathan Wengel, owner of the Cross Stobs InnArthurlie Inns Image: Newsquest

Peter Mulholland, owner of Arthurlie Inns in Main Street, Barrhead, fears the worse for the town’s licensed trade.

He has been told his own gas bills could triple or even quadruple from the current £5,876 a year.

Peter added: “Many of our customers come to the pub to keep warm and get a heat. We have already dropped our beer prices by 20 pence a pint because their costs have gone up as well.

“They are already buying less of what they did before.

“The government needs to come up with some kind of support for small businesses like ours and be more strict with the energy companies.”

Sandra Kirk, of the Kelburn Bar, in Cross Arthurlie Street, knows of one local business whose electricity costs have gone up by 800 per cent and is facing closure.

She has still to learn what her own price increase will be.

“Businesses like ours are really going to struggle,” said Sandra. “You are at the mercy of the power companies and the government should really be stepping in.

“I am on a fixed deal for gas and electricity and don’t know what it will go to when that ends.

“I think this could be worse than Covid because there is no safety net like furlough.

“It is really quite frightening because you can’t turn your gas and electricity off in a pub. We are also worried that, as costs go up, people won’t go out and socialise.”