After raising meal prices by around 7% in February to deal with inflation and rising costs due to the pandemic, Josh Rinierco-owner of Peruvian-style chicken restaurant Frisco’s in downtown Lancaster, tries to avoid asking customers for more as the impact of bird flu is now driving up its costs.
“Everything kind of escalated to the point where the chicken was between $1.30 and $1.50 per pound” from 69 cents per pound when the restaurant opens in October 2020, Rinier said. “Now with bird flu we see another 30– to an increase of 40 cents.
For now, Frisco’s hopes to avoid any further price increases due to the bird flu. “We wanted to make sure we took on some of that burden,” Rinier said.. “We don’t think it’s fair for our customers to just pass it all on.
Lancaster County restaurant owners face the same tough choice because tens of millions of birdsincluding chickens, across the country – nearly 4 million in Lancaster County alone – have been affected, according to the US Department of Agriculture. The nationwide outbreak is expected to drive up retail poultry prices by around 1.5% and egg prices by up to 3.5%, on top of inflation which has already pushed prices up. price, according to USDA Food price outlook report released this week.
A brighter spot might be restaurant chicken wing prices, where one of Lancaster County’s top wing spots reports that demand, inflation and the pandemic have pushed prices so high they’re Actually coming some, despite the impact of avian flu.
Count dollars and cents
Even what may look like a small percentage increase – or pound –wise may add up quickly for a restaurateur.
Take Frisco, for example.
Rinier said Frisco buys nearly 11,000 pounds of chicken a month, so a 40-cent-per-pound increase because of bird flu means spending $4,400 more. At $1.80 a pound, those same 11,000 pounds of chicken would cost $11,850 more than when Frisco first opened. in October 2020, an increase of 160%. Since then, the price of a family meal at Frisco — a whole chicken, two sides, sauces and a 2-liter soda — has jumped from $23.99 to $27.99, a jump of 17%.
While Rinier and its staff have found ways to contain costs by seeking new suppliers and operating more efficiently, “tas a small business, there’s not much we can take on,” he said.
Even establishments with considerable volume have not been spared from the cost crisis.
Shady Maple Smorgasbord CEO and President Phil Weaver says he hasn’t had any problems getting eggs or poultry, but prices are rising for all foods at a rate that could drive him up buffet price again. He said he increased the breakfast buffet the price $3 since the pandemic. This covers wage increases (workers receive an average of $15 per hour) and food costs.
Weaver said on a Saturday if a usual crowd of 2,000 customers showed up within 110,000 square feet Eastern Earl Township restaurant that is popular with touring the buses, he sells at least 4,000 eggs
Weaver said he was able to get deals on chicken tenders at around $1 or $2 a pound, but now he can’t find such deals and is paying over $3 for the deals. Grid chicken is the highlight of the lunch buffet.
Spots that break a lot of eggs face similar problems.
As a result, Jim Rutoloan owner of Gracie’s on West Main in Leola, is considering whether to add $1 to the prices of some menu items.
The restaurant has a huge selection of omelettes, so Rutolo says they are feeling the sting of rising egg costs. But raising prices means going through the expense and hassle of printing new menus and updating computer systems.
“It’s a pain so you try to minimize it as much as possible,” he said. “You don’t want to raise prices and then lower them again in a few weeks.”
alexander Montiswhose family owns Conestoga Restaurant & Bar and Neptune Diner in Lancaster, is also trying to hold the line on price increases, but it’s getting tough.
“The price of eggs has increased significantly. Our prices stay where they are; you can’t keep raising prices every day,” he said.
Montiswhich also operates restaurant and meal delivery service Big Daddy’s Brunch, said the price the increases for eggs only add to the series of additional expenses for his business, which include higher labor costs as well as a recent increase in delivery charges for the company delivering his ingredients food. “Everything is up in all areas. I’ve tried to keep everything we do stable, but you can only do it for so long.
Wing prices drop
Joe’s Famous Wings and Wieners in Leola is a place with lower prices. but this news is tempered by the fact that wing prices had seen a huge increase long before bird flu was a factor.
It got to the point where owner Ryan Bunting stopped listing wing prices and listed them simply as “market price” as of last fall.
Bunting said market rate pricing was necessary for the Business, which has seen prices for a 40-pound box of chicken wings jump from an average of $83 in 2019 to a recent high of $175 ahead of this year’s Super Bowl, which is the annual high for price. Leading up to the Super Bowl in 2019, Bunting said a 40-pound box of wings was in the $90 range, which is about where they are today.
At one point, Bunting set a price of $1.75 per coin, but has since lowered it to $1.35 per coin. Prices are “still very high, but they are coming down,” he said. “It’s partly because they go to a point where they had to come down. People weren’t buying them.
OHila bird flu could spike price for wings, the historical price spike before the flu hit means that they are – so far at least – trending dclean even as flu cases rise.
Bunting says falling wing prices while chicken prices rise overall reflect some quirks of the market for wings, a pub staple whose popularity during the pandemic and inherent supply has led to surges. of wild prices that exceeded the cost of other cuts of chicken.
“Whings have always been different,” he said. “It’s like filet mignon chicken.