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COVID-19 pandemic forces some restaurants to raise prices

Several factors are leading to restaurants charging more for your favorite dishes.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Restaurants are looking at how they operate to try and find ways to recoup what they lost over the last year.

That includes what you may see the next time you open a menu at some of your favorite restaurants.

"We still have mask requirements. We still have social distancing requirements. We still have food with alcohol rules. We still have curfew," says Melissa Fleischut.

Melissa Fleischut is the president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association. She says while restaurant owners are still dealing with those restrictions, they are also dealing with choices to make about menus and what to charge for each dish. She says there are a number of reasons why some restaurants have adjusted the prices on their menus.

"Definitely there's more expense to running their restaurant, you know, now they're providing additional PPE for their staff," Fleischut said. "That would have been something that they would have never have had to factor in prior to the pandemic making sure that everybody stays safe. Additional cleaning. Probably additional staff. We've heard a lot of people who've had to try and put on staff for extra hours for cleaning, and some have hired security people to help manage crowds and manage their folks to make sure everybody is following the rules as they come in. Minimum wage went up, and I think certainly they've had to pay staff more money. 

"We find that there's a huge hiring issue for the industry right now. It's very difficult to hire anyone to come to work at the restaurant industry right now, front of the house, back of the house, but particularly the line cooks and the back of the house, the kitchen staff, so they've probably increased their labor costs. Food costs have gone up mostly due to places being shut down last year, so less supply and the same demand."

Fleischut says it is also important to keep your reservation if you have one with capacity limits still in place.