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Virginia restaurants juggling hiring shortages, high supply prices

Local restaurants juggling hiring shortages, high supply prices
Posted at 5:52 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 08:01:51-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- As many restaurants continue to struggle with staffing, the prices of food and supplies have gone up.

Two restaurant owners are trying to do their best to make ends meet without passing on the additional costs to their customers.

"Last year and a half has been pretty challenging," Drew Phelan with The Brickhouse Run Restaurant said.

"I had to close an extra day and reduce my business hours," John Saba with Etterick Deli said.

Saba said he made the decision to close down an extra day in the best interest of his employees.

"Everybody that's working is having to work longer hours and getting a lot of overtime," Saba said.

One constant change is the almost weekly cost increase restaurants are paying for food.

Last year, Saba was paying $65 for a case of chicken wings. Nowadays, that food purchases are costing him more than double.

"Today, I'm actually paying $165 per case of wings and that has caused a lot of heartache for us and our profit has decreased to the point where we are considering not selling chicken wings," Saba said. "Ketchup packets have doubled in price. Ranch dressing almost doubled in price.

"Fryer shortening, at one point a year and a half ago, I believe we were at $18. One of my suppliers recently told me we were up to $48," Phelan said.

He said that he isn't willing to compromise on quality even if it means he has the chance to save money.

"We use a whole lot of whole muscle ribeyes, the quality we use jumped up probably 30 percent," Phelan said.

All these added costs come at a price for restaurant owners.

"Well, the bottom line definitely gets hit," Phelan said.

Amid skyrocketing prices, many restaurants like the Ettrick Deli are unable to find extra help.

"I am not finding anyone, we're not getting applications currently which is a pretty big strain on us," Saba said.

While The Brickhouse Run Restaurant had most of its veteran staff return, Phelan said that they now find themselves working harder to find deals on their meat and vegetables.

"It's tough, it's a lot more effort as far as shopping, we do juggle a handful of suppliers so we try to have as many resources available as possible," Phelan said.

While most restaurants can't pass every price increase they absorb, some are finding that subtle price increases are a way to stay afloat.

Many restaurant owners believe that the cost of food isn't going to come down any time soon.