Why you are seeing increased restaurant prices

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when lockdowns were the order of the day, cooking at home had lost its luster, and takeout just wasn’t cutting it anymore, most of us would have given our eyeteeth to be able to sit down in a restaurant and be treated to a proper dining experience, cost be damned. Well, today the last part of that scenario is definitely happening, as continued supply chain disruptions, climate change-induced weather events, and the fallout of a large scale war in an important food growing region have converged to push restaurant bills to new heights.

The New York Times took one Charlotte, North Carolina restaurant bill and broke it down item by item to explain how each of the costs had increased since 2019, showing how everything from wine to packaging to meat had become more expensive. (The article should be free for anyone to view using the link above.) Some items have increased by a modest amount, like carrots at 14% over their 2019 cost, but other items have skyrocketed in price, such as canola oil, which shot up by over 150% in the same time frame. The price increases depend on the factors most involved for each commodity: war has limited supplies of cooking oils, drought has decimated US wine crops, labor shortages at ports combined with increased fuel costs have meant price spikes in some imported ingredients that arrive by boat and then are trucked cross-country.

On average, restaurants have seen their profit margins shrink by about 80 percent since pre-pandemic days, according to the National Restaurant Association. It’s not only food costs that are rising, everything from takeout packaging to labor costs to natural gas has jumped in varying amounts. If you have been experiencing sticker shock at your restaurant tabs recently, this article puts some of the cost increases into context.

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  • Jenny  on  August 10, 2022

    Jim went out to lunch today with a local co-worker and a friend – and he first ordered a turkey club – but they can’t get turkey at the restaurant and he couldn’t have that. He then ordered a chicken caprese sandwich – but a few ingredients were left off due to shortages – i.e., pepperoni. As long as no one takes my Diet Pepsi away – no one will get hurt.

  • Rinshin  on  August 11, 2022

    Wow, thanks for sharing the article. Everything has gone up and some are mind boggling. We hardly ever eat out anymore unless we are dining with friends/family, special occasions, and traveling and this really opened my eyes to what restaurants are dealing with since 2 1/2 years ago. Many restaurants have closed up since pandemic.

  • Wende  on  August 17, 2022

    The restaurant business isn’t the easiest business to be in in good times, but these past few years have been brutal – first the pandemic, then the supply chain issues and trouble finding workers, and now inflation and gas prices!

    Restaurant owners have taken it on the chin more than most and, as a frequent restaurant-goer, I am very grateful for their fortitude.

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