9,000 restaurants have closed since March 2020, Texas Restaurant Association says

Business

AUSTIN (KXAN) — With inflation expecting to persist into 2022, the restaurant industry is bracing for a trying holiday season.

According to October inflation numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this week, consumer costs are up 6.2% from last year. Food costs were up 0.9% from September to October alone.

“Think about the last time you went to a grocery store, and you were like, ‘wow, that seems high.’ Well, restaurants are experiencing the same thing,” said Melissa Stewart, senior executive director for the Texas Restaurant Association.

This, as we’ve seen, is resulting in higher prices for customers as restaurants consider the bottom line.

“Consumers should probably expect higher prices, and that’s everywhere — that’s not unique to us,” said Stewart.

Limited hours and menus are another way restaurants are working to adjust to rising costs as well as workforce struggles.

“We’ve actually had to consolidate our menu sometimes now, like on NFL Sundays, because of how busy we are,” said Claire Holcomb, a server and bartender at the Tavern — a spot she says was able to stay open throughout the pandemic.

“It could be less complicated dishes, it could be dishes just come off the menu for a while, because it’s just not available, or it’s so expensive to produce it’s just not a reasonable [return of investment],” said Stewart.

TRA says 9,000 restaurants, about 20%, in the state have closed since March 2020, and restaurants still open in Austin are enduring obstacles as they brace for the holiday season — one that’s expecting an influx of customers as we get closer to a post-pandemic lifestyle.

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