A news presenter became visibly upset as the distraught owner of a Sydney restaurant “loved by the local community” tearfully explained why his business has gone under.
Davina Smith on 9 News was seen holding back tears as Sydney restaurateur Rocky Pitarelli emotionally poured out his frustrations on Wednesday over monthly bills essentially doubling since Caruso’s Italian Restaurant opened five years ago.
“It’s come to the point where it’s become unbearable for small businesses to turn the lights on,” he told Ms Smith on 9 News.
“Somebody can just get up in the morning and say ‘well interest rates need to go up, the price of electricity needs to go up’, and there’s no justification to anybody.”
Mr Pitarelli went on to explain how much his electricity bill has risen since the Gymea restaurant opened its doors.
“When we first started the business we were at $300 to 400 a month. Our last quarter before the price rose we were running at $504 a month, and then it jumped after the last price increase to $700 a month. So with an extra 20 percent, the forecast would be $840 a month, which is far too much.”
Question prompts business owner to break down
When asked what his message would be to leaders before next week’s state election, Mr Pitarelli burst into tears, urging the government to “worry about the backbone of this nation” and not the “popularity contest”.
“This nation was built by mum and dad operations like us,” he said tearfully on 9 News.
“Don’t worry about looking popular, worry about small business. And how you can save us. Because we are all a victim of circumstance. The community loved us. We were on top of it. But still we lose. And it’s just not fair.”
‘I hope the leaders are listening’
As it was Ms Smith’s moment to speak after the moving interview, she said she hoped “the leaders are listening” and offered some kind words to the restaurant owner.
“I’m so sorry for what you’re going through Rocky. You are a loved institution in the [Sutherland] Shire, I for one am a big fan of you, and wish you all the very best. This isn’t your fault.”
Voting for the NSW state election starts on Saturday March 25.
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