Local News


Restaurant owners facing uphill battle as food prices increase

Posted at 8:18 AM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 12:00:10-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — During a global pandemic, many businesses are facing more rules and regulations than ever before. Now, increasing food prices are adding to the mounting pressure to stay afloat.

Chris Connors is the owner of Me Gusta Tacos and The Local in The District in Henderson. He says the restaurant industry is taking punches left and right.

“We’re in the ring right now and we’re losing,” Connors said.

RELATED: Allowed to reopen, restaurants forge their own path forward

Me Gusta Tacos serves up modern Mexican food -- carnitas, barbacoa, and Korean Kalbi tacos are just a few menu options.

Connors says they’re taking a hit to keep those items on the menu.

Meat processing plants around the country have shut down due to COVID-19 and Strip properties are reportedly buying less specialty meat.

“We saw an uptick with our meat prices, a significant increase,” Connors said.

Now, Connors says he’s seeing produce prices follow suit.

"Vegetable prices are about to reach an all-time high for us," he said. "Meat prices -- an all-time high."

"50% occupancy," he added, "you mix those things up and that’s hard."

Connors suspects wildfires ravaging California may have something to do with it. Specifically, in Salinas Valley.

RELATED: 5 dead, thousands evacuated as several groups of wildfires burn California

Christoper Valadez, president of the Grower Shipper Association of Central California, says COVID-19 has already presented challenges for farmers, and wildfires in the region aren’t making it easier.

“We have farming operations that were looking at changing their harvest schedules for about a day, where they can reduce exposure to wildfire risk, he said.

"Meaning, getting people or moving crews to an area where there’s not as much smoke so they can harvest in a safer area," he explained.

Valadez isn’t sure if the production delay was enough to change produce prices, though. He says that could be another supply and demand issue.

Either way, Connors doesn’t want to see the cost passed on to customers.

“We increase our prices, what happens? We’re probably going to alienate some customers," Conners said. "Especially people who aren’t working right now."

"That’s the last thing we want to do as a business," he added.

The Salinas Valley is a major food service provider for Southern Nevada.

Valadez says while smoke and ash was a major problem for them, that should not impact food quality.