Fort Worth, Texas – The restaurants in the North Texas area are having hard times to remain open and operational, a problem that has been a real struggle in the last few months, but fueled even more with the Omicron wave lately.
From staffing shortages, to supply chain issues and rising prices, restaurants are doing everything in their power to overcome this situation.
Fort Worth restaurant owner explains how difficult is for him keep his restaurant open and all the problems he had recently. According to him, he was forced to close his businesses before New Year’s Eve because he didn’t have staff, and now when is open, he has hard times finding all the ingredients he needs daily.
The Texas Restaurant Association says 96% of Texas restaurants have experienced an interruption over the past three months.
Jon Bonnell is the owner of Bonnell’s Restaurant Group in Fort Worth. He says those unavailable items change every day.
“All of our plastic or Styrofoam to go containers, sorry. We’re gonna be out maybe for a year. Pick something else,” he said. “Or the price of king crab went up to $110 per pound wholesale. So we just took that off the menu completely.”
The staffing shortage is not the only problem for restaurants. Since few months ago, owners are now paying much more for ingredients and employees have increased pay, the Texas Restaurant Association represents roughly 50,000 restaurants across the state said.
“Those are really the two inputs that make up a restaurant, right? Food and people to cook and serve it,” said Kelsey Erickson-Streusert with the Texas Restaurant Association.
In an effort to reduce the negative impact on their operations, restaurant owners are often implementing new and creative offers and promotions. According to Streusert, restaurants more than ever implement new products in their menus to adapt what’s available in the market and for increasing their offer.
Others are adjusting their working hours both in an effort to battle staffing shortage, but also to adapt to the working hours on third party delivery apps as another method of staying in business.
“I think the next month is going to be very telling in terms of how many—especially of the smaller, independent restaurants — are quite literally able to survive this pandemic,” she said.
Although these are just a few of the temporary measures owners usually implement, some reach a point when they have nothing left but to close. So was the case with Bonnell’s in Fort Worth that had to close during the week leading up to New Year’s after 10 staff members tested positive for COVID-19 at the same time.
“I know we lost Valentine’s last year because of the hikes in snow,” he said. “Losing New Year’s too, that was a pretty big hit.”
Bonnell is optimistically hoping once omicron dies down, the industry can start to bounce back.
“I think when it comes back to seeing your sales back to a normal level and feeling like we’re pretty full as far as staff goes and hopefully products are back on the store shelves, someday we’ll wake up and say, ‘Wait? Did it end?’” he said.