High food costs are hurting local restaurants

LOS ANGELES — Inflation hit a 40-year high this week, with consumer prices rising 9% over the past year. Not only are Americans feeling it at the pump, but also in grocery stores. Rising food prices are making it difficult for restaurants to stay afloat.

Owner of three new Hollywood concepts, Ronnie Muñoz opened his first food truck in 2018 and can’t believe how much inflation is affecting the industry today.

“The prices then, compared to the prices now, are about triple or quadruple what they were then,” Muñoz said.

The chef and owner has already struggled opening Ronnie’s Kitchen, Besties Burgers and Todos Santos at the end of the pandemic. But now, with grocery prices jumping 12.2% from a year ago, the biggest increase since 1979, he hadn’t expected to spend so much money.

“In addition to the rent, it is difficult to deal with percentages. Food is increasing, but we can’t charge that much. Paper items that we have to use. We cannot serve food without a napkin. These are things we need. We are all trying to stay alive,” Muñoz said.

He said a case of fries at Besties used to cost $20 to $30 and is now $50, while oil and flour cost him $1,000 just last week. Muñoz added: “If we lower the quality of the oil, it lowers the quality of the food.”

So far, he hasn’t made too many changes. He took the pies off the menu because they weren’t worth it, but he hasn’t raised his prices for customers yet.

“It’s not something we want to do, but it’s something we probably need to do. There’s not much I can charge for a cheeseburger,” Muñoz said.

Muñoz tries not to stress what he can’t control and never means restaurants might close because of inflation, but if the trend continues to rise, he doesn’t know how small businesses will fare. will come out.

“Restaurateurs, chefs, managers, we are all made to survive. So we will keep doing what we did during the pandemic and just keep fighting the good fight,” Muñoz said.

So if you see menu prices changing at your favorite local restaurant, inflation may be to blame.

Gladys T. Hensley