'We had to do something': Virginia restaurant adds inflation fee

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Posted at 11:01 AM, Jul 18, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. — On Sunday afternoon, Brandon Jackson prepared to open the doors of the restaurant he manages, Cheddar Jackson, in Jackson Ward.

He and his team spent about an hour preparing all the ingredients he needed. However, Jackson said he isn't always that lucky.

“Supply chain has been a continuous issue. There was an Old Bay shortage," he said. "For some reason, a 16-ounce cup shortage. That was very interesting. Finding 16-ounce plastic cups was not possible for a period of time.”

Supply chain issues and rising costs of goods are putting a dent in the restaurant's plans.

“We had to remove a couple of sandwiches off of our list just because I could not get exactly what I needed," Jackson said. "We had to add a little bit of an extra surcharge to some of our vegan prices, but we’re still trying our best to keep our prices as low as possible.”

Brandon Jackson
Brandon Jackson

Restaurants nationwide have to make tough decisions about how much to charge to make up for supply chain issues and inflation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, menu prices have increased about 7.7% in the last 12 months.

“The National Restaurant Association indicates that restaurant prices have increased almost 12% in the last 12 months. That’s a very significant increase, and it even exceeds some of the inflationary numbers," said Eric Terry, the President of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association.

Inflation menu fee

In Goochland, Sunset Grill implemented an inflation fee, with this written on their menus: "With the skyrocketing costs of goods, materials & labor, we have found it necessary to add a 3.5% inflation fee in lieu of consistently raising menu prices. We hope you understand."

"Doing menu changes in accordance with daily rising prices was not reasonable, as we would have been printing and reprinting two or three times a week," owner Leslie Whitney wrote in an email to CBS 6. "My husband and I thought long and hard on this because we didn't want to offend anyone with the added fee and also didn't know exactly what to call it. However, we did know that we had to do something to recoup some of the money loss."

Other restaurants may add a surcharge or credit card fee.

“Over 90% of your charges in a restaurant anymore are paid by credit card, so that’s a pretty big number," Terry said.

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Along with inflation and supply chain issues, restaurants still suffer from staffing shortages, pain from the pandemic that never fully went away.

“The industry still has not fully recovered. We lost almost 20% of our restaurants in the state of Virginia and across the country. I think the restaurant industry is still struggling to get workers so they can open a full schedule or several days a week, or whatever they’re used to," Terry said.

Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association President Eric Terry
Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association President Eric Terry

Terry said he believes these trends will continue through this summer, but both he and Jackson agree that the struggle with rising prices is temporary. Jackson is now encouraging customers to be patient due to longer wait times and to tip when dining out.

“Have a little patience. We’re all in this together. We’re all trying to make this work," Jackson said.

Elizabeth Holmes at WTVR first reported this story.