Mr. Pitarelli explained that the high cost of goods and produce had led him to shutter his restaurant.
During the interview, he expressed frustration at having done everything right but still losing.
Ms. Smith, the presenter, expressed sympathy and support, acknowledging that Mr. Pitarelli was a beloved institution in the shire.
The closure of Caruso’s Italian restaurant is a common story across Australia, with hundreds of family-run businesses closing due to the cost of living crisis.
Australian companies are going bust in increasing numbers due to rising staff wages, the increasing cost of supplies, and interest rate hikes, reducing customers’ spending.
Data from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission show that 484 businesses went into administration or liquidation last month, a 45% increase from the same time a year ago.
In addition, electricity bills have surged across the country, with more than 500,000 households facing another increase of at least 20% this winter.
Many small business owners are selling their homes or working second jobs to make ends meet.
Mr. Pitarelli expressed frustration that there is no regulation and everyone is looking after their own pockets.
He also criticized Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for not doing more to help small businesses.
Other small business owners shared similar stories of rising costs, including Darren Collier, who had to shut his fire-based flatbread restaurant, SpitJack, just over a year after opening.
He said that consumers need to accept that they have to pay more for food, but it’s not sustainable for many businesses right now.
Narelle Lucas, who runs a local produce shop called Wild Earth Mother, is closing her store because her customers just “vanished.”
She also criticized the government schemes aimed at helping local businesses, saying that they are difficult to get and require businesses to pay all the money upfront.
Suresh Manickam, CEO of the Restaurant & Catering Association, urged consumers to remember that small businesses bear the brunt of rising costs.
He explained that small businesses owned by mums and dads are dealing with higher electricity prices and rising interest rates, making it difficult to break even or pass on these higher costs by increasing menu prices.