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Restaurants in Colorado and nationally feeling same pandemic-related struggles

Restaurants locally and nationally feeling same pandemic-related struggles
Posted at 6:48 AM, Feb 09, 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS — Restaurants nation-wide continue to feel the impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and challenges seen by restaurant owners across the country are similar to what's being seen here locally.

The National Restaurant Association released the 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report last week. It highlighted how businesses are struggling and what they're doing to recover from the pandemic.

One of the key takeaways is that 96% of business owners have dealt with supply delays or food shortages, and those are expected to continue throughout the year.

"It was scary to know that it's not just locally or regional, that these problems are national, and every restaurant in every small or big town is struggling under the same struggles," said Daniel Dreyfuss, the owner of Pies & Grinders.

Dreyfuss said right now the biggest struggle is the costs of goods. Prices have doubled and tripled on items and ingredients that he buys every week, which has led him to making the decision to increase prices on his menu by the end of the month.

"So we have been very diligent to keep our pricing in line. However, yeah, we're raising our menu prices in three weeks. And it's not out of greed. It's out of necessity to keep my doors open," said Dreyfuss.

The report also said in 2022, food costs will still be up and continue to impact restaurant profit margins nation-wide. Labor shortages, along with recruiting and retaining staff is also a major challenge. Dreyfuss says for that, he's given employee raises and helps keep morale up.

The reports also explains that in 2022, fewer people are dining in at restaurants, and it's a problem felt nation-wide. 51% of adults now say they aren't eating at restaurants as often as they would like, which is a 6% increase from before the pandemic.

Dreyfuss says more expensive meals because of costs of goods, and longer wait and delivery times because of staff shortages, are some of the reasons why. He also said more takeout and delivery options like using Grub Hub or Uber Eats have an impact too.

"As far as dining goes, it's significantly down from where it was before. Third-party delivery services have the convenience offsetting the extra cost. You know, people are now willing to pay $3, $5, $10, $15, so they don't have to leave their homes," said Dreyfuss. "Luckily for us, pizza is built for delivery and takeout, so I think places like steak houses and fine dining, aren't necessarily built for that."

Because of nation-wide challenges brought on by the pandemic, the restaurant industry and in-person dining experience seem to be constantly changing. According to the report, 54% of people say takeout and delivery will remain essential, and roughly half of owners thinking outdoor dining will continue to be prevalent this year.

While restaurant owners are working to navigate all these challenges, Dreyfuss says he hopes customers remain understanding, because he doesn't know when things will return to normal.

"I don't know if anything will ever be normal again. I think every industry has learned and adapted with what's going on. But please be understanding, because if something like a delivery or order goes wrong, give us a chance to make things right. We'll always do our best."

For a full look at the report, click here.