Consultant expects RVA restaurant scene to grow despite impacts of rising fuel costs

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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – Between record inflation at home and war raging abroad in Ukraine, gas prices have continued to spiral out of control as the national average recently topped $4 a day. gallon – more than the 2008 crisis. These prices aren’t just causing pain at the pump; the local travel and food industry is also affected.

“They face inflation. They face higher prices. They have to raise some prices, and the public seems to understand that, especially with everything going on in the world,” Mike Byrne said.

Byrne has been an industry expert and restaurant consultant in the food business for over 40 years. He says that despite rising food prices due to inflation and gas prices, they likely won’t stop customers from ordering the special at their preferred date.

“Higher gas prices mean you may have to give up something else; maybe not going to the gym or not doing this or that, but that won’t stop you from eating,” Byrne said. “It’s not catastrophic or gloomy.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, food prices in January 2022 were 7.0% higher than they were a year earlier in January 2021.

The department also measured that restaurant purchase inflation rose more than 0.7% in January 2022 and was 6.4% higher than in January 2021.

Inflation for purchases in grocery stores or supermarkets increased by 1.2% from December 2021 to January 2022 and was 7.4% higher than in January 2021.

Byrne says he expects the city’s restaurant industry to grow even as gas prices soar.

“The Tobacco Company – which I consult – just opened their club and had record sales,” Byrne said. “Libbie and Patterson’s Grill is seeing record numbers – bigger than 2019.

Even if prices go up with everything else, Byrne says people are willing to pay for convenience. He says the restaurant industry is constantly adapting to perform at its best regardless of the economic climate, especially over the past two years.

“Richmond is doing very well in terms of restaurant loyalty and retention,” Byrne said. “I don’t see the restaurant business collapsing right now; I see him adjusting. That’s what people in the restaurant do; that’s what they always had to do.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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