Rising food prices: here’s why some menu items may cost more in restaurants

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More and more local restaurants are trying to bounce back in the COVID-19 economy and are looking to retain staff who satisfy their customers.

At Koan, a Southeast Asian fusion restaurant in Cary, staff are earning higher salaries than before the start of the pandemic.

Sean Degnan, who also owns Soca in the Raleigh Village District, had to let go about 40 waiters and line cooks when the pandemic started; when it reopened in June, it offered them $ 15 an hour on top of tips, paid vacation and sick leave.

To keep the doors open in the face of declining demand and the rise in the number of COVID cases, Degnan added an additional 10% to customer bills.

“We added a 10% durability charge,” Degnan said. “We didn’t know what the future of the pandemic was, how long it was going to last, when the vaccines were going to be deployed. So that 10% charge was really to pay people to stay home if they felt bad.

Koan closed again in December and when it reopened in April, Degnan was able to remove this supplement; wages were lowered to $ 7.25 an hour, still more than the $ 2.13 an hour, plus tips, his team earned before the pandemic.

Customers will always notice that they are paying more for certain menu items.

“Beef prices have fluctuated, fish prices have fluctuated, gasoline prices are fluctuating now, which is fed to us by our suppliers,” Degnan said.

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Still, Mother’s Day has been profitable for Degnan and a sign of what he hopes to come.

“I saw a lot of people hugging their grandmothers and mothers for the first time this past weekend in over a year and it’s moving to witness it,” Degnan said. “I really can’t place enough value on coming together as a community and celebrating around food and drink. It was missed. It was sorely missed.”

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