HONOLULU (KHON2) — You might be biting off more than you can chew next time you go out to eat, and that’s not just the meal.
With inflation, supply chain problems, and the rising price of fuel, some restaurants are struggling to keep prices manageable.
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The surge in costs prompted Coconut’s Fish Cafe on Maui to include an explanation on their menu for price increases, which owner Mike Phillips says has been most difficult due to supply chain shortages, putting prices up 23% since last year.
“There’s got to be a stopping point to the price point because they’re going to say no,” Phillips said of customers. “I’ve been in business through the 70s and 80s and the 90s in many different scenarios. This is the worst I’ve ever seen.”
The rise in prices is happening nearly everywhere.
“We used to pay about $3.40, a couple of years back for a pound of ribs,” Ruby Tuesday Hawaii CEO and Owner Rick Nakashima said. “Now it went up to about seven. So it went past double. Now it’s inching back down. But we use 1,000 pounds of ribs for four restaurants a month. So that’s a big deal.”
The problems haven’t just been shipping. Oil and gas prices have HECO projecting to raise electric rates by at least 10% in Honolulu, and by 20% on Maui and Hawaii Island.
“Restaurants are always air-conditioned, and the food is always odd and that stuff doesn’t come cheap,” Nakashima said.
Visitors are likely to pay the high prices according to UH Manoa Travel Industry Management professor Jerry Agrusa.
“Food has been one of the biggest increases,” said Agrusa. “So people are a little more understanding. I think they’ll be understanding that they have to.”
But it will be tougher for locals. Nakashima says he’s trying to cut food waste and excess labor.
“We don’t want to get the locals up with a high cost to equate what we’re experiencing,” said Nakashima. “We’re hoping the prices will go back down, and we can manage our costs,”
But Phillips doesn’t see the prices changing for the better anytime soon.
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“This is a major, major crisis in the restaurant business,” said Phillips. “This is throughout the United States. It’s not. It’s everywhere in the United States. And I don’t know whether we’re gonna say when.”