Eating Out? Why Bay Area Restaurants Continue to Raise Prices

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Restaurant costs are going up, and that means those dining out likely are paying higher prices for their meals.

While some restaurant costs are obvious, including beef, vegetables and oil, one Oakland-born chef went viral with a post pointing out some costs many people might not think about.

Chef Kwasi Moses says fryer oil went from $21 a year ago to $35 six months ago to $45 today. And a batch of takeout boxes that was $25 a year ago is now $95.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the producer price index for all foods saw the highest surge in four decades, nearly 13% between September 2020 and September 2021. Ninety-one percent of restaurant operators said that impacted them, a National Restaurant Association survey found.

Restaurant operators are trying to adjust by substituting menu items, offering smaller portions and sometimes passing the cost increases on to their diners.

"It’s not personal," Moses said. "Sometimes we have to pass off costs to the consumer, and a lot of people, myself and other chefs and people who own restaurants, don’t want to do that. But it’s the only way you can break even because if you keep your prices the same and your costs go up, you’re going to lose money and eventually go out of business."

Moses asks diners to try to be understanding with the restaurants that remain open as they deal with higher prices and labor shortages. They’ve had a rough go during the pandemic, with more than 100,000 across the U.S. closing temporarily or permanently.

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