RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Restaurants hope the start of Triangle Restaurant Week will be a boost for business.
While January is typically a slower month for the restaurant industry, many have new challenges including staff shortages and rising food costs.
Tracy Wildrick, executive chef at Sitti Authentic Lebanese in downtown Raleigh, said the cost of fryer oil is up almost 400-percent. He said higher food costs lead to higher menu prices, and the need to cut down on labor, which he said is tough to find.
He said the restaurant averaged $10,000-15,000 in sales per day in December, but in January it’s been $2,000-3,000 a day. He hopes Triangle Restaurant Week will be a boost.
“This is kind of the business we’ve been waiting for all month,” Wildrick said. “All month I’m like, ‘Alright Restaurant Week’s coming,’ like I know we’ll prep up for it, we’ll get ready for it, guests will come in for restaurant week.”
At Peck and Plume in Cary, Chef Steve Zanini said he’s down about four to six employees. As for food costs, he said beef and chicken costs twice as much.
Zanini said some menu prices had to increase, but customers are still showing up. He hopes restaurant week will bring in more customers, and excite people to join the restaurant industry.
“It’s been a little slower than it has been, but still pretty steady,” Zanini said. “We figured this would help drive guests in. It was a decent lunch today with the menu, so I think it’s been doing good already.”
Triangle Restaurant Week founder Damon Butler said usually about 100 restaurants are a part of the event but said they’re down about 30-35 percent this year.
“Some of the restaurants that aren’t participating, one because they have staff shortages, and two because of those food costs, again they’re really really high right now, and they just can’t afford to fit that into our price point,” Butler said.
He said menu prices increased by about $5 this year due to the rising food costs. The two-course menu is new this year and is cheaper than the three-course option.
Restaurant week runs through Sunday. Click here for a full list of participating restaurants.