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Surviving the economic vortex: How restaurants can weather inflation's storm

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As inflation tightens its grip on the economy, many people are feeling the pinch, from housing to transportation to retail and services, including restaurants.

"We don't go out near as often as we used to. How often, where we go, you stick to the reasonable restaurants, and [we] found out that some of the quick foods are not reasonable anymore," said resident Bill Bell.

The food service industry is in a difficult position as rising food costs and customer expectations continue to pose challenges.

Deb Heels owns Deb's Place on Huronia Road in Barrie and is concerned.

"Food costs go up almost on a daily basis as a restaurant owner, I can't put my costs up on a daily basis to cover those. Cautiously optimistic is a good way to put it, yes, because who knows what tomorrow will bring, what with the cost of things increasing, how it will affect us," said Heels.

Restaurants Canada says 62 per cent of restaurants are operating at a loss or are barely breaking even, compared to 12 per cent pre-pandemic.

Su Ling Liu owns and operates Chef Chan Chinese Food in Barrie. She was forced to raise her prices about a year and a half ago but is concerned she might lose business if she does it again.

"I really worry for me to lose customers because if you keep the price for the food going up. This year, they are going up for at least 50 per cent to 55 per cent for the food cost," Liu said.

Restaurants Canada says the food service industry is a $114 billion industry.

According to restaurant owners, customers may not be aware that food prices have increased for takeout.

Even these new wood forks and knives cost them more than double what they paid for plastic. While they're not against the environmentally friendly move, they say it's yet another extra cost.

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