The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted production at U.S. meatpacking plants, causing some ingredients to be priced higher for restaurants and leaving fewer products to choose from.
St. Joseph restaurants are only in their third week of being allowed to have customers dine inside again, and now some are worried about being able to provide enough products for customers.
Cecil Bratton, owner of Ford’s Drive In, said he’s felt the impact at his business and has run out of some supplies already, causing him to juggle between his three suppliers to have enough meat for the restaurant’s most popular product, beef burgers.
“I was due to make more burgers and the prices was up to $5 to $6 a pound,” Bratton said. “Green Hills had a sale at the time for $2.97 and I went and picked up some packages and made some beef burgers out of Green Hills ground beef.”
Bratton said the only other alternative is to stop selling his most popular product until prices go down, but he doesn’t want to have to do that. Since Ford’s isn’t a franchise business, Bratton said he feels fortunate he can go to alternative places to get his supplies.
“Wendy’s or McDonald’s have certain product, but Cisco has a quarter pound patty and when I’m out of my regular patty I can use an alternative patty just to keep the product going,” Bratton said.
San Jose Steakhouse and Mexican Grill has come across similar issues with its suppliers’ prices going up, but owners Manuel Enriquez and Kevin Talbot said the restaurant is keeping its specials, including $1 beef tacos on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“We’re adjusting day to day and if it looks like prices are going to get too high then we’ll raise the price of tacos, but right now we’re going to keep it at the dollar price to keep customers happy,” Talbot said.
Talbot said if the restaurant’s suppliers do run out then they’ll just go to stores for alternative products like everyone else. However, they’ve been told by suppliers that they’ll have enough to get through but prices will be high.
“It makes us feel good that we can get it, but every time you turn around the price changes on us and goes up,” Talbot said.
Both restaurants said they’ll just have to continue to adapt and substitute items if need be, but they are confident they can manage the supply disruption and still have enough food to sell to customers.