Restaurant Week fuels business as local restaurants struggle with inflation and labor shortages

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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – restaurant week in New Orleans brings special menus and food offerings to boost business at local restaurants as tourism in the city slows.

From June 20-26, approximately 70 restaurants across New Orleans will offer creative menus and experiences to encourage people to dine out.

With the ongoing impact of the pandemic and now rising utility costs, local restaurants are working hard to make money. But Restaurant Week, brought by The Louisiana Restaurant Association and New Orleans & Cohopes to generate some much-needed revenue.

“It helps us attract a lot of customers and a lot of locals,” said Paige Roth, manager at The blue crab, one of the restaurants participating in Restaurant Week this year. “I’m guessing more people are out post COVID.”

As temperatures rise, local restaurants begin to experience a ‘cool down’.

“It really comes at a time when business is slowing down,” said Kyle Brechtel, owner of copper vine, another participating restaurant. “Business started to pick up last year in 2021 and then we got into some of the labor issues and now food cost issues so it’s been kind of crisis after crisis.”

Inflation, supply chain problems and rising gas prices have caused product prices to rise significantly, forcing restaurants to make menu changes.

“We had to raise the prices a bit,” Roth said. “Crabmeat is definitely one of the most expensive things we have to buy.”

“Tuna is up 40 percent, chicken is up,” Brechel said. “Chef told me eggs are up 150 percent, so we made a small price increase in January, but we’re really trying to catch it as much as we can.”

Brechtel said it has been a long 26 month of challenges for the food and service industries. These impacts aren’t unique to New Orleans restaurants, however.

“We said, ‘Look – we know what the challenges are at the moment and it’s really important that you suggest what you do best or what you do creatively, if you want to put out new menu items, do that. ‘” Wendy Warren said with that Louisiana Restaurant Association.

She said an event like Restaurant Week can help restaurants and increase sales during these trying times.

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