Restaurants getting creative to keep menu prices down for customers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Restaurant owners across the nation are faced with higher food and labor costs, but raising menu prices is not an option many want to consider.

"I know restaurants are changing their menus every week and knocking up prices a little here, a little there, but in order to be customer friendly and price-conscious, you have to be flexible on your menu," says Vino Grille & Spirits co-owner Chuck Van Fleet.

He says the changes to his menu were not at a cost to customers, adding, "filets went up more than $10 a pound. When we looked at the price we were going to have to charge, we said we're not going to use filets anymore, so we went to New York."

With supply chain shortages, many food and everyday products that restaurants use are priced significantly higher.

Van Fleet says, "The cost for lemons and limes by a case has doubled in price. Due to drought and lack of water, we're getting an inferior product on that. Cooking oil has doubled in price as well.

Shipping delays are also impacting restaurants.

"It's difficult to get Italian, French wine, some Spanish, but then you're also looking at the wineries that can't get the glass to put the juice in," said Van Fleet.

Restaurants like Vino Grille and Spirits are taking advantage of added outdoor dining areas and hosting banquets to even out the costs, but that brings up another issue: finding employees.

While the future is uncertain for what restaurant overhead will be in the coming months, there are programs to help them recover from the pandemic.

Earlier this month, California moved to extend the sale of cocktails-to-go and keep alcohol service for outdoor dining at parklets.
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