More than 90% of Texas restaurants have increased prices. Here’s why

The Texas Restaurant Association said that since 2019, 92% of Texas restaurants have increased prices for customers.

AUSTIN, Texas – If you’ve dined out recently, you may have noticed that you pay more for your meal.

That Texas Restaurant Association states that 92% of Texas restaurants have increased the prices of menu items in the last three years. They said this was due to rising food and utility costs, rising employee wages and other price increases caused by the current economy.

Bouldin Creek Cafe has been in South Austin for more than 20 years and the owner said the past three years have been challenging.

“Honestly, I don’t understand how people do it. We were fortunate to receive a dining grant and I don’t think we would be here without it,” said Leslie Martin, owner of Bouldin Creek Cafe.

She said they’ve faced all kinds of price hikes, including their property taxes. She said her Austin employees also face affordability issues and didn’t want to have to rely on tips to earn a living wage.

That’s why the restaurant has added a 20% “fair wage surcharge” to all customer checks to cover living expenses. They started doing this in 2021 under the guidance of the group Good job Austin.

“The main goal is to treat the service industry as basically a valid profession, and it should have some of the perks that come with a professional job,” Martin said.

Martin said she’s already making savings to help with other operational costs. This is common at many Austin restaurants.

“For almost three years, it’s really been a series of challengessaid Kelsey Erickson Streufert, chief public affairs officer of the Texas Restaurant Association.

Streufert said in Texas that 47% of restaurants have reduced hours and 49% have delayed expansion plans due to rising costs and staffing needs. She also said that wholesale food prices are the highest since the 1970s, which is a big reason for the higher menu prices.

Another reason is the pay of the staff. She said nearly 70% of Texas restaurants don’t have enough staff to keep up with demand, so they try to pay staff more, which impacts the customer’s bill at the end of a meal.

“On average, the national hourly wage in our industry has increased by 10.6%, which is almost twice as much as in the entire private sector,” said Streufert.

Streufert said it was a good thing and these workers deserved more compensation. Whether it is an increase in a menu item or a fair surcharge, she asks the customers for their understanding.

“Every single item or service that comes into a restaurant to create that experience for you the customer has doubled or tripled in price in the last year or two,” Streufert said. “So there’s real economic pressure on these restaurants.”

Martin said they felt supported by the community at Bouldin Creek Cafe regarding their additional fee. She said they are grateful that people understand.

“We get people who say they come on purpose because they know we care about the workers,” Streufert said.

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