AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Central Texas continues its stretch of triple-digit days and excessive heat warnings, area restaurants and food trailers are feeling the heat — both inside their kitchens and within their wallets.

The Texas Restaurant Association said the state’s monthslong stretch of triple-digit temperatures has led to reduced foot traffic of customers frequenting restaurants, food trucks and trailers. It also comes as inflation has continued to impact the costs of food, in turn raising prices, said Emily Williams Knight, president and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association.

“[The heat] impacts everything from consumers not wanting to go out, it reduces capacity in those dining rooms, and it also reduces patio space,” she said. “You can’t sit outside right now, no matter how hard you try to make it comfortable.”

How Texas’ extended heat wave is hitting local businesses

Heightened food production costs along the heat wave have served as a “perfect storm” for restaurants, she said. Last summer, restaurants were seeing a lot of pent-up demand following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and restaurants and eateries were seeing an uptick in customers.

Now, Knight said both food and labor costs have increased upwards of 20%, affecting both the amount of money consumers are willing to spend as well as the revenues businesses are taking in.

“It really started in, really, late July across Central Texas, where we are really still seeing a deficit in those dining rooms,” she said. “To-go [services] remain strong, thankfully, but we hope as we’re seeing some 90-degree temps coming that people will return.”

It’s a financial strain Scott Amburgey, owner of burgers and barbecue food trailer Ambur Fire in Round Rock, knows too well. Compared to the spring months, he said his business is down between 40% and 50% in sales this summer.

Traditionally, his food trailer sees lines of customers seeking out Ambur Fire’s burgers or sitting inside the trailer’s covered pavilion. This summer, he said he hasn’t seen any lines, let alone people dining in the pavilion.

“This has definitely been one of the hottest summers I’ve ever seen since I’ve lived in Texas all my life,” he said. “But we’re just hoping to get down into the 90s to be a little cooler. We look forward to our customers coming back and standing in line, and sitting down with their families and enjoying their lunch and dinner.”

Patricia Bedford, owner of Suga’s Cakery in Pflugerville, said it’s not unusual in the baking industry to see a downtick during the summer months. When she first opened her brick-and-mortar location in April, she said there was steady traffic throughout the day; now, she said she sees more customers coming in the evenings when, while still hot, it isn’t the hottest time of the day.

From a cost standpoint, Bedford said transitioning from a food truck to a physical storefront led to increases in overhead costs, in turn raising her bakery’s prices. However, she said inflation has also played a major role in those increased menu costs, as prices for ingredients like cake flour have doubled.

“I know it’s hard for my customers, but it’s definitely been a hard pill for me to swallow,” she said. “Just something I have to do if I want to stay in business.”

How to support restaurants, food trailers during the excessive heat

While in-person foot traffic might be lower now, restaurant experts and business owners said customers can still do their part to help support their favorite local businesses. Amburgey said Ambur Fire continues to offer online ordering and pickup services for those still wanting burgers, barbecue and brisket sans a wait in line outside.

Bedford added the power of social media is one way to show some love to your favorite restaurant, bakery or eatery of choice, even without spending any money.

“There’s lots of ways to support, especially on social media,” she said. “Which is, you know, a tool that a lot of people use to figure out if they’re going to visit us.”

Knight stressed the value of ordering takeout directly through the restaurant’s website or by calling them, as opposed to utilizing third-party ordering services. That maximizes the profits the restaurants collect.

“Don’t forget about your community restaurants, especially those ones that are around the corner that your family dines at, the small independent,” she said. “Because they’re hurting right now, and just like COVID, we know consumers can help carry us through.”

More information on how restaurants can keep their staff members safe during the extensive heat wave is available on the Texas Restaurant Association’s website.