Restaurants battle rising food prices
The restaurant industry is facing some of its toughest times in decades, according to local eatery owners.
They spoke after the latest consumer price index figures for March confirmed price increases of more than 20 per cent on many basic food items between February and March.
Frozen spare ribs, for example, was hit with a price increase of 28.8 per cent.
Alfred Konrad, co-owner of Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio on Water Street in St George, said even the price of breadcrumbs — an essential item for their signature wahoo bites — has increased more than 60 per cent in a matter of weeks.
“It is through the roof,” Mr Konrad said. “The price of food is changing almost on a daily basis. We don’t want to pass that on to consumers, but our margins are getting smaller and smaller.”
But he said Wahoo’s is holding its own.
“We are starting to see more tourists coming in,” he said. “We have a good ferry service that is bringing people into St George. So we are making more sales, but our profits are shrinking because the cost of everything is so much higher.”
Fabio Di Vuolo, owner of Speciality Inn on South Road in Smith’s, called the price increases “crazy”.
“Even during the recession (of 2008) things were nowhere near as bad as this,” Mr Di Vuolo said.
He said the restaurant is starting to get busy again after the upheaval of the early pandemic, but the recent supply chain issues have changed how they operate.
To cope, Speciality Inn is raising prices on some items. Burgers will stay the same but there will be a slight increase in the cost of sushi.
“But don’t worry we never put our prices up more than 50 cents to a dollar,” Mr Di Vuolo said.
The price of food containers, brown bags and other equipment has also gone up for restaurateurs.
“But we are blessed to have the support of locals,” Mr Di Vuolo said. “We just have to weather the storm.”
Angelo Armano, co-owner of Ascots Restaurant on Rosemont Avenue in Pembroke said the restaurant business is a balancing act right now.
To cope with the pandemic challenges Ascots has been offering a fixed price three-course meal for the past two years.
“We had to raise that from $55 to $68,” he said. “It includes multiple main course options, specials and desserts.”
He said having the fixed price menu takes away some of the uncertainty for the restaurant.
“In 28 years of business, I have never seen things so difficult,” Mr Armano said. “Pre-pandemic things were going very well. We hope that things are starting to change.”
He said recent events such as the Newport Bermuda Race have been bringing customers into the restaurant.
“There is more movement,” he said.