How Phoenix restaurants are struggling to find food, workers

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How Phoenix restaurants are struggling to find food, workers
How Phoenix restaurants are struggling to find food, workers

Miracle Mile Deli has proudly served pastrami sandwiches for 72 years, but the pandemic put Josh Garcia’s restaurant on “survival mode”. “What we see are the normal products that we could easily get, like chicken tenders that we can’t get,” Garcia said. “Manufacturers, like us, have staffing problems, but now that the world is open they can’t keep up with demand, so they’re trying to bounce back and we’re at the end of it.” Metro Phoenix small businesses and restaurants are struggling to stay afloat from supply chain bottlenecks and price increases as they compete with Walmart, Amazon, and other powerhouses for products that fill shelves and pantries. They also compete for labor to fill important positions. ALSO READ: 4 Popular Restaurant Design Trends in Valley Garcia Touts Miracle Mile As One Of The West Coast’s Biggest Pastrami Users; The restaurant serves around 3,000 pounds of pastrami every month. But the price, he said, has increased by $ 2 a pound since the pandemic was declared in March 2020. “We have increased the price of products by 30% since the beginning of COVID. everyone has seen some form of price increase, ”he said. “All big businesses have lots of cash and backing with investors and customers, but we’re just a small mom and pop business that’s been 72 years with 24 employees.” Mark Vitner, chief economist at Wells Fargo, said the in the $ 5.2 trillion economic checks issued in 2020 and ’21 would have helped revive consumer spending faster than the supply that closed when demand plummeted at the start of the pandemic. “We basically ran out of inventory on almost everything and production was trying to catch up,” said Vitner. “We still haven’t regained all of the jobs that were lost during the pandemic and factories and warehouses are having a hard time getting workers back.” Vitner said he believes supply chain worries have peaked and the Phoenix prices are up 7.1% year over year, according to October Consumer Price Index data, “he said.” And I think we’ll be in a better place in six months, but we’ll have these supply chain issues for at least a year long not completely overcome. ”While restaurants are not as affected by supply chain and shipping issues as other industries such as construction and housing, small businesses don’t have the bargaining power when it comes to keeping restaurants open without fatiguing staff, said Vintner. “Some chains are even closing low-performing stores, while others are switching to ghost kitchens that run the Li Serve efermarkt, ”he said. “It’s a really tough environment to work in.” Looking for Supplies Chip Mahoney, owner of Wicked Brews, Bites & Spirits in the Ahwatukee Foothills section of Phoenix, has run out of cutlery since September. Usually cutlery is washed and folded into cloth napkins at the end of the shift, but instead he spends his days driving to stores and grocery stores in hopes of finding cutlery and other supplies for the restaurant while the staff washes themselves during peak hours and folds. “I’m driving around, getting nowhere and wasting my day,” he said. “That’s not how I want to run my business – drive through the valley looking for products that I need for my business.” Wicked Brews celebrated its first birthday in November and opened its doors for the first time when pandemic food restrictions made the restaurant in the first four months. Mahoney said he and his staff were working to promote the new restaurant while also complying with COVID-19 protocols such as walking through the air. B. Reduced seats and closings some days a week. “It started to improve until the supply chain and lack of employee interest, which has really been a dent in the past four months,” Mahoney said. “It’s actually harder than the opening.” Mahoney said it is a numbers game that tries to ensure Wicked Brews has products for the dining room while trying to keep prices down to keep customers and attract. But even with product price increases that resulted in higher menu prices, the bills still pile up. The alcohol industry is also affected by shipping and other supply chain issues as many breweries and distilleries struggle to find supplies to fill their alcohol. Brothers Josh and Jason Duren, who are co-owners of Cider Corps in Mesa, have gone out of their way to source apple juice and fruit to brew their cider, but they also have a hard time finding cans for said cider. Wendy Tilton of Wild Hare Distillery in Tempe said her problem was not finding bottles to fill her liquor, but finding the same bottle style to maintain brand consistency. “Our last order was supposed to be in August and I still haven’t got it,” she said in late November. “We ordered 375 milliliter bottles at the beginning of the year and waited for months to get them. And once they got in, the bottle company couldn’t find any corks or sleeves to put them on. ”The Staff Fight Mahoney said another part of his daily routine is finding staff for the restaurant. As a mom and pop business, he said the company didn’t have enough money to pay the number of people it took to properly staff the restaurant. Mairead Buschtetz and her husband Fabrice are also struggling to find workforce for their numerous restaurants and bistros across the valley, including Cuisine & Wine Bistro in Chandler and Copper & Logs in Gilbert. It feels like they are in a “vicious circle,” said Mairead Buschtetz. “We got great federal aid last year to stay open and we have been very blessed, but there is no federal aid this year,” she said. Usually, according to Buschtetz, five people work at the same time in the Cuisine & Wine Bistro kitchen: Her husband, the head chef of all the family’s restaurants, works with three other chefs and a dishwasher. At the moment, however, Fabrice is the only chef and there is no dishwasher. Instead, the Bush Nets and their three children step in where they can to keep the Frenchie Pizza restaurants in Gilbert going, which are facing the greatest human resource challenges. Even if she has to hire workers, Mairead said she can’t afford to pay them because costs rise elsewhere in the business. Even with wages between $ 13 and $ 23 an hour, Mairead said the family can’t compete with companies like Amazon and Whole Foods. “Our rent is at least $ 1,000 more expensive and the labor costs are huge because our products are at least 30% more expensive than usual,” she said. “It’s a terrible situation and I can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know how long people can hold out there. ”Working Together Many restaurants have had to get creative, either changing restaurant concepts or adding partner experiences to keep attracting customers and alleviate some of the bottlenecks. Josh Duren of Cider Corps said these challenges created an “enforced level of creativity” that could ultimately benefit American small businesses. “It built a really strong bond where people realized that you had to rely on other people’s help to survive,” he said. Wild Hare has teamed up with a local chocolate company, Stone Grindz in Scottsdale, to host a tasting event organized by a chocolatier who mixes various chocolates with their spirits, and Tilton said they will continue for the Christmas season; only on Fridays, Saturdays and some Sundays by prior arrangement. At Wicked Brews, live music wasn’t something Mahoney wanted to offer, but since its introduction during the pandemic, it has become a regular feature on Wednesdays and Friday evenings. “You have to adjust your business plan, know your market and your guests, just to stay on top,” he said. “Every penny counts now.” Story by Sara Edwards, Cronkite News

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