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Denied loan, angry restaurateur bans bankers

Anyone who's been turned down for a loan knows how irksome it can be. But one French restaurateur isn't taking rejection lying down. Instead he's banning bankers from his upscale eatery, saying, "They've treated me like a dog."

The restaurant owner, Alexandre Callet, who runs Les Ecuries de Richelieu in suburban Paris, was angered after numerous banks refused to lend him 70,000 euros ($77,600) loan to open a second location.

Callet responded by updating his daily specials blackboard outside his posh bistro to read: "Dogs welcome, bankers banned (unless they pay an entry fee of €70,000)," according to the Local.

"I believe in reciprocity," the Local quoted Callet as saying. "I had to respond. 'If you hit me, I'll hit you.' "

Callet sees little reason for banks to deny him a loan, saying that his gourmet restaurant in Rueil-Malmaison had revenues last year of 300,000 euros -- his best year yet. Still, without the loan, Callet has had to shelve plans to open his second restaurant.

This isn't Callet's first run-in with disinterested bankers. He previously encountered problems getting a loan when opening his first restaurant seven years ago. After being turned down 20 times, one bank finally agreed to lend him money.

Young entrepreneurs' inability to find money to start or grow their businesses is rampant in France, the 30-year-old said. For restaurateurs and entrepreneurs, it's the same: "We have to get on all fours." Rather than beg, many business owners instead have turned to crowd-funding in search of cash.

Callet said his restaurant isn't "just a kabob shop," (he's published in the Michelin guide, after all) and that he's aware that bankers routinely dine at his eatery and will deny entry to any of whom he recognizes.

Only time will tell if his bark is worse than his bite.

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