Arizona restaurant leader says inflation causing balancing act for industry

Apr 28, 2022, 11:12 AM

(AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)...

(AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

(AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

PHOENIX —  The president of the Arizona Restaurant Association said Thursday that even the busiest eateries aren’t necessarily seeing great profits, but rather are in survival mode due to high food costs.

Steve Chucri told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show that continued inflation is causing the industry to manage a delicate balancing act of trying to make money without pricing out customers.

“It’s a perfect storm right now for the industry and we’re weathering it,” Chucri said. “But I’ve got to tell you, it’s not easy.”

Chucri doesn’t expect inflation to cause many restaurants to go out of business, but it is an ongoing challenge for the industry coming out of the pandemic.

He wouldn’t be surprised to see some restaurants operate only on certain days, especially in the summer months when the hospitality industry isn’t as strong.

“I don’t anticipate a lot of businesses going out of business this summer,” Chucri said. “But you might see some restaurants closed for two or three days of the week order to keep their doors open.”

Supply chain and staffing issues are also contributing to restaurants’ struggles, according to Chucri.

He said he recently spoke with a Valley steakhouse that has been buying buying graham crackers from the grocery store for its signature cheesecake and other desserts because they’re not arriving quickly enough.

As a whole, the industry has had staffing problems since the start of the pandemic two years ago.

Chucri is hopeful its an issue that is corrected in the next few months.

“It’s just incremental improvement and we need more than incremental improvement,” Chucri said. “We’re hopeful by quarter 3 or 4 this year, we’ll see some some reprieve.”

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Arizona restaurant leader says inflation causing balancing act for industry