AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the weather warms up, Austin’s restaurants are rebounding.
At Bar Peached, general manager Patrick Courson said seats are filling up fast.
“Every Friday and Saturday it’s nonstop action,” he said. “Tonight alone, we’ve got close to 14 separate large parties that all wanted to come in.”
This is quite a contrast from this time two years ago, as many local businesses were hit hard by the pandemic.
“Restaurants have been on an incredible rollercoaster,” Texas Restaurant Association chief public affairs officer Kelsey Erickson Streufert said. “We’ve lost about 9,000 restaurants across the state unfortunately.”
With staffing shortages still an issue, most of the remaining restaurants are learning to do more with less.
“Maybe they’re not open seven days a week like they used to be,” Streufert said. “Maybe they’re not open for lunch service like they used to be.”
Food costs are also climbing, experiencing their highest increase since 1975.
“A pretty steep rise in the cost of doing business overall period,” Courson said. “Not just cost of goods but food-wise, the cost of goods in the liquor world as well.”
Yet as business booms, the future looks bright for spots such as Bar Peached.
“Between folks wanting to come out, give you their business and the weather turning, I think restaurants are now in a position to really capitalize on it,” Courson concluded.
According to research from OpenTable, during this year’s South by Southwest, the number of seated diners was up 45% compared to the pre-pandemic festival in 2019.
This data also indicated in the 10 days leading up to SXSW, the volume of seated diners was up 14% compared to the same period in 2019.