In the COVID-19 era, an employee shortage is taking many U.S. restaurant owners to the brink. Labor shortages at each stage of the supply chain mean restaurant owners have to pay much more.
Ezequiel Fuentes, the owner of the Mi Tierra de La Villita restaurant in Chicago, is very concerned about the crisis.
“I’ve had to pay 25 to 40 percent more on supplies over pre-pandemic prices,” said Fuentes, who is invested in 32 more restaurants.
He says labor issues abound not only in restaurants but also in the food-production centers that supply them.
“They’re facing the same problem. This phenomenon has brought about a chain reaction: the slowdown in production impacts prices and the entire industry,” said Fuentes.
He believes the problem is that “people don’t want to work.”
Even though patrons are going back to restaurants, the industry has been hit by food and supply price hikes, even on uniforms.
“Deteriorating business conditions are impacting operators’ outlook to the point that they state a recovery from the pandemic will be prolonged well into 2022,” said the association.
The letter to Congress reveals the discouraging results of the latest survey of restaurant operators and warns about the possible dangers of some provisions of the government’s Build Back Better framework on the recovery of the restaurant industry.
The missive also asks Congress not to raise taxes on this sector, as the framework contemplates.
Most full- and limited-service operators say market conditions are worse now than three months ago, according to the association.
“Our nation’s restaurant recovery is officially moving in reverse,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association.
Roberto Gómez, the owner the Don Pepe restaurant in south Chicago, said that, besides prices, restaurant owners have seen a wage increase to $15 an hour.
“We’ve had to adjust our prices to take in the supply price hike and employee wage increase. It’s good for consumers to be aware of this new challenge we’re facing,” he said.
Edited by Melanie Slone and Kristen Butler
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