Eastern Iowa restaurant businesses face inflation challenges as they still recover from the impact of the pandemic

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ST. DONATUS, Iowa (KCRG) – New data Tuesday shows that prices should continue to rise. The Labor Department’s producer price index is up 10% from a year ago.

Restaurant businesses in eastern Iowa are feeling the impact of this price hike, especially when it comes to gasoline and food. This was the case at Kalmes Restaurant and Catering in St. Donatus.

Judy Lochner, who has worked at Kalmes for years, said the rising prices were of great concern to them. She said the impact is definitely there, but to understand how much of an impact these high prices could have on them, you have to consider all that companies like hers have been through over the past two years.

Kalmes is well known in northeast Iowa for providing catering services for all kinds of events including weddings, graduations, birthdays and funerals. When the pandemic started, most of these events were canceled or postponed. Lochner said it had a devastating impact on the business.

“Our business was down 90% with restaurant and catering, of course as well, so it was very difficult and there are still repercussions even now,” she said.

She said they were still trying to recover from the impact of the pandemic while dealing with inflation and rising prices.

“We’ve kept our prices as we set them for this year and so on, but yeah the prices have all gone up with our meat and all of our other stuff has gone up as well, so we’re coping, we’re just serving less people sometimes,” she explained.

Lochner said staff shortages are also preventing them from holding as many events as before the pandemic.

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