Arizona restaurant chef says inflation is causing a balancing act for the industry

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PHOENIX — The president of the Arizona Restaurant Association said Thursday that even the busiest restaurants aren’t necessarily making big profits, but are instead in survival mode due to high food costs.

Steve Chucri said KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show that continued inflation forces the industry to manage a delicate balancing act of trying to make money without charging customers.

“It’s a perfect storm right now for the industry and we’re weathering it,” Chucri said. “But I have to tell you, it’s not easy.”

Chucri doesn’t expect inflation to cause many restaurants to close, but it’s an ongoing challenge for the industry emerging from the pandemic.

He wouldn’t be surprised to see some restaurants only operating on certain days, especially during the summer months when the hospitality industry isn’t as strong.

“I don’t expect a lot of businesses to go bankrupt this summer,” Chucri said. “But you might see some restaurants closed for two or three days of the week in order to keep their doors open.”

Supply chain and staffing issues are also contributing to restaurants’ struggles, according to Chucri.

He said he recently spoke with a steakhouse in the Valley who was buying graham crackers at the grocery store for their cheesecake and other desserts because they don’t arrive quickly enough.

The industry as a whole has been experiencing staffing issues since the pandemic began two years ago.

Chucri hopes this is a problem that will be fixed in the coming months.

“It’s just incremental improvement and we need more than incremental improvement,” Chucri said. “We hope that by the third or fourth quarter of this year we will see some reprieve.”

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