LETHBRIDGE – It’s not only consumers that are seeing a hike in prices for produce at the checkout counter: local restaurants have been feeling the impact for months, as the Canadian dollar and supply in the United States and Mexico remain unstable.
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Rising cost of food raising prices at restaurants
“What we’ve spent on produce in the last two months, [is] the same amount on protein,” Mocha Cabana Bistro co-owner Angel Harper said. “If you know the food service business, protein has always been the centre of the plate, and it feels like produce is costing just as much as that.”
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Harper said it’s becoming a struggle to find a way to afford the rising food costs without letting go of staff, or charging customers more.
“We’re just two women who own a business–that was our dream,” Harper said. “Being an independent business when our costs all of a sudden go up like this, it impacts us greatly…It’s really scary right now.”
“I don’t think we’ll close our doors, but for other independent businesses owners, it could be ‘make or break’ for them.”
Erica Pyska is the owner of Plum restaurant downtown Lethbridge. She said her restaurant is a bit of an anomaly, because the menu changes every month to adapt to the environment and to cost challenges.
“We’re already a high-end, expensive restaurant. We’re not looking to raise our prices, we’re looking to innovate and create and actually let our chefs do what they’re trained to do,” Pyska said. “To take something and create value, even added value, from one thing and turn it into something different.”
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Although the future of food prices is unsure, Pyska said she’s optimistic the pinch won’t last for long.
“It’s okay, I think, to feel nervous. It’s okay to feel scared a little bit,” Pyska said.
“It’s also okay to feel hopeful, and to be excited about really taking this and saying, ‘what can we do now? What can we get our hands on that we didn’t even know we would have to use?’ And then: how can we make that attainable for our customers and our guests?”
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