FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The weeks between the winter holiday season and Valentine's Day are often the slowest time for restaurants. This year inflation is making matters worse.
"These last few years have been um, I am going to get choked up...I didn't think I was going to get choked up...have been super hard," said Justin Glenn, co-owner House of JuJu.
He echoes the sentiment of many restaurant owners across the country. At the end of 2022, The Old Town Clovis eatery didn't see the winter holiday season rush that they count on every year.
"This year we didn't get that big bump," said Glenn. "And talking to some other restaurants, they didn't get that big bump either."
The first month of 2023, an already historically slow season in the restaurant industry has been made more difficult with a rising cost of ingredients, supplies, and even minimum wage.
Glenn says last year the price of products that House of JuJu uses went up 30%, so raising menu prices soon might be inevitable.
"You get the comments. You get the people who that extra dollar in price makes a difference to their bottom line and we understand," said Glenn. "Not everybody can come to eat here, but we try to make sure that we have things that people can afford."
Last month, in an effort to help local restaurants through the lull of the year, the City of Clovis offered diners $25 gift cards for every $100 they spent at a Clovis restaurant. It didn't take long for the city to run out of 200 gift cards, which signifies $20,000 in sales at local eateries.
"The employees get paid and they spend that money in the community," said Shawn Miller, Clovis Business Development Manager. "They fill up their cars with gas. So that money circulates three times at least before it leaves the community."
Raul Gutierrez is the CA Restaurant Association President for the Fresno Chapter and owns Papi's in northeast Fresno.
He says most local restaurants have had to adjust prices to survive inflation. Gutierrez hopes what will keep diners coming back is hospitality.
"It's going to be okay you know, like everything it goes up and it comes down," he said. "We just want to make sure that the customers are getting the proper experience."