Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

Bankers banned from Parisian brasserie

Yorkshire Terrier dog sitting at a table with cake

In this Paris restaurant, bankers are no longer the top dogs. In fact, the four-legged animals are favoured customers due to the owner’s bad banking experience.

Alexandre Callet owns a Michelin-ranked gourmet eatery in Paris and, after achieving success and increasing its customer base, he had high hopes of opening a second restaurant.

“In 2015, we achieved our best year, not only in terms of profitability but also the level of turnover,” Callet told Le Figaro. So why not try and launch a second place? In November last year, the restauranteur put his plan into action and tried to secure a loan of €70,000 from several banks.

Except nothing went as planned. Numerous banks turned him down with limited or no explanation – and several banks just didn’t reply. He said he felt “humiliated”, especially because “a lot of bankers who turned me down know me. They come in here”.

But this isn’t the first time Callet has experienced trouble securing funding. When opening his first restaurant, Les Ecuries de Richelieu, he was only 23 and was turned down over 20 times before one bank agreed to lend him the money.

It seems the chef isn’t willing to be as patient this time, however. A sign outside his restaurant now reads: “Dogs welcome, bankers banned (unless they pay an entry fee of €70,000).”

Callet explains his reasoning for banning all bankers: “Restaurateurs, entrepreneurs, we are all in the same situation: whenever we want to start a business, we have to get on all fours.” And by choosing to deny them access, he has turned the tables and firmly put bankers in the dog house.