Restaurants nationwide raise prices amid soaring costs, labor shortage

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Americans returning to restaurants might notice something different: a bigger bill. 

Rising costs of ingredients and basic supplies as well as a nationwide labor shortage are throttling restaurants just as they begin to fully reopen and ramp up for a bustling summer season. 

Alan Natkiel, the owner of Georgia’s Northside in Concord, New Hampshire, took to Facebook to plead with customers to understand. 

“Due to the surging costs.. I hate saying what I’m about to say but here it is-  I will be raising prices on select items to offset my increased wholesale costs,” he wrote in a post. “When supply chain issues and availability come back around, I pledge to adjust my prices accordingly in order to maintain a menu that is fresh, dynamic, and very importantly to me: affordable to the Concord community.”

The price of St. Louis Ribs, for example, is up 50 percent over the past three months, he said, and fryer oil prices have almost doubled while food service gloves have tripled in cost. 

Natkiel added that he’s not currently selling chicken wings due to a national shortage that’s driven the price up. 

Prices across all products jumped 4.2 percent over the past year — the largest increase since 2008, according to the Labor Department. As the economy comes roaring back to life, an imbalance between demand for goods and companies’ ability to supply products has sent prices up, and now it’s hitting small restaurateurs just as many are welcoming back customers after over a year of pandemic-constrained operations.

Brian Mooney, the owner-chef of to-go seafood joint Hooked in Montauk, New York, said costs of everything are rising, squeezing the small five-employee business’ ability to turn a profit. He added that he’s had to raise pay about 15 percent to retain employees and try to attract a couple more workers to help with surging demand. 

“Pay is up. Food prices are up. Glove costs are up. The cost of everything is up,” he told The Post. 

Kenan Porter, owner of Middletown, NY-based Clemson Bros. Brewery, noted that costs of beer ingredients are up, too. During normal times, he said, costs take between 18 percent and 22 percent of sales. Right now, they’re at 25 percent, he said. 

“That translates to a nice chunk of money at the end of each month,” he told The Post.

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