Every time you go to the grocery store, it seems like the bill gets a little bigger. But imagine having to order food for your restaurant every day as those costs go up.
Nick Stanistas went to the Cascade Culinary Institute at Central Oregon Community College and dreamed of one day opening his own restaurant. His dream came true — Kefi Mediterranean.
But these days, that dream is turning into more of a daily nightmare of riding the wave of inflation simply to keep the doors open.
It all started with a case of bad timing.
“I went from being a line cook, prep cook, you know. Just a normal worker to owning a restaurant in a matter of a week and then two weeks later I had to deal with COVID,” said Nick.
COVID itself was a major challenge for everyone, let alone those in the service industry. But those challenges didn’t decrease when the number of COVID cases went down.
“Now the challenge is finding employees. The challenge is raising prices. Inflation is at an all time high. Cauliflower was at $36 one day, and four days later it was $86 a case, so 12 heads of cauliflower was $86,” said Nick.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, eggs are up 49%, butter is up 27% and flour is up 25% since this same time last year.
And restaurants can only directly sustain such an increase in costs by raising prices.
“At the beginning of the year, our standard bowl was $12. We are at $14 right now — which really is only a 16% increase. Our prices have more than doubled that 16%,” said Menoula Stanistas, Nick’s mom who is the restaurant’s business manager.
Nick’s mom runs the back end of the restaurant and has become used to the unpredictable balancing act that they have to go through on a daily basis.
And of course, the solution isn’t as easy as it may seem.
“When we did raise our last price increase, we lost revenue, we lost business. But that’s our reality. It’s not that we’re trying to gouge anyone. We’re just trying to stay open,” said Menoula.
And like the rest of us, the service industry is just trying to stay afloat with the belief that when the pendulum swings one way, it’s should just be a matter of time before it swings back.
“Inflation has to correct itself. We’re just trying to stay solvent until that happens,” said Menoula.