Summit County restaurants impacted by national supply-chain issues
Some restaurants are raising prices as supply decreases, demand increases
In addition to hiring challenges, local restaurants are also facing supply-chain issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
When the virus forced manufacturers to close or switch up their operations, it disrupted production. Some manufacturers closed altogether as demand for certain products decreased. But as the nation, and especially Summit County, began opening back up, restaurants are finding that production is making a slower comeback, which is difficult to navigate as consumer demand is back in full force.
One of the biggest impacts to local restaurants is the national chicken wing shortage. Alan Bullock, owner of Ollie’s Pub & Grub in Breckenridge, said it’s been tough to find enough supply to feed customers.
“Our business being a sports bar, our namesake food item is chicken wings and burgers, but chicken wings specifically (have been hard to find) since probably the middle of February,” Bullock said. “(It) has been in short supply, leading to inconsistent deliveries as far as quantity and quality of the product.”
The chicken wing shortage was caused by a few different factors, including pandemic-related disruptions and the winter storm in Texas in February. According to The Wall Street Journal and Texas Monthly, the winter storm alone caused over one million chickens to die.
Bullock said he uses one vendor to get his supply of chicken wings and that he has to place smaller orders more frequently to get what he needs.
“Typically your food purveyor prefers that you try to put in as large of an order as you can to cut down on the amount of times they have to deliver to your restaurant, but our provider, because of their constant influx of inventory, is actually encouraging us to order as often as we can in smaller quantities as to give them the opportunity to keep up,” Bullock said.
On top of that, Bullock said his vendor has increased the price, which is then reflected on the menu. Bullock said the price of chicken wings have doubled — if not tripled – since a year ago, and that the price of a large order of wings at his restaurant has jumped from $18 to $28.
“We pride ourselves on having the jumbo chicken wing, but with the inconsistency in product, at times we’re selling wings that are half the size of what we normally would sell so we increase the amount that we put in our order,” he said. “However, that has gotten more consistent as of recent.”
Ollie’s Pub & Grub in Breckenridge isn’t the only restaurant in town experiencing difficulties. Mahdi Torabinejad, barista at House of Vibes Coffee and Curio in Silverthorne, said he frequently has to visit multiple stores in Summit County to get milk alternatives, such as oat milk and coconut milk.
“I go on runs for milk and it’s definitely, the last two or three times that I’ve (gone), I’ve tried different stores whereas before you could really go anywhere and they would have oat milk,” Torabinejad said.
Torabinejad said the coffee shop places orders for some supplies, but the shop relies on local county grocery stores for other items like milk. He said the shop normally tries to get unflavored milk, but he’s had to buy vanilla milk in some instances because it was all that was available.
Though the past few runs have been difficult, Torabinejad said the shop hasn’t had too many days where it’s been completely out of needed supplies.
Lynda Colety, the owner of Moose Jaw in Frisco, said the same. Colety said that though she’s experienced slight shortages with chicken and fish, it hasn’t been bad enough to cause concern. Instead, Colety said she’s had the most issues with reordering the coin machines and felt for her two pool tables.
“Our coin changers come from China and I think it’s been a couple of months since they broke,” Colety said.
Because it’s been so long, Colety said she opened up her pool tables so guests could play for free until the parts are delivered, which she expects to happen within the week.
As restaurants continue to work around supply chain issues, Bullock said he wants customers to know that if they see increased prices, it’s because the businesses themselves are trying to keep up with supply and demand.
“It’s a result of the fact that the restaurant themselves are paying more for (the items),” Bullock said. “(I’m) trying to emphasize that we’re not gouging prices just because we think we can, but that we’re doing it because we have to.”
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