Restaurants still grappling with higher meat prices

(iStock photo)

Local restaurants have been paying higher prices for meat all summer, and it doesn’t appear prices will fall any time soon. As a result, many restaurants are having to increase menu prices and risk the loss of some customers. 

Beef prices went down and then shot back up, says Paul Mladenka, owner of Cou-Yon’s Barbecue. Baby back ribs, brisket and chicken wings continue to be more expensive than normal. 

“You price it best knowing that you may alienate some clientele because of those prices,” he says. “It’s been very difficult, because you have to decide whether to take something off of the menu or list it at the correct price.”

Mladenka made his third menu change in six months in July. Even prices for items like shrimp and fish have gone up, he says. 

In addition to meat prices, the post-hurricane supply chain in Baton Rouge has been broken, as so many local restaurants get products out of New Orleans, he says.

Beef products accounted for the majority of price increases at City Group Hospitality’s restaurants, says Jeff Conaway, director of operations. He thinks it’s mostly due to a national shortage of drivers and complications with transport.

“We evaluate each business separately and based on the cost of business we’ve looked at, not very many prices have increased,” he says. “But we’re always reviewing our menus to make sure our costs are staying in line with current pricing.”

Calandro’s meat prices have stayed high since early July, store manager Blaise Calandro III says, and have not fluctuated much in the past two months, although supply has not been an issue.

Calandro had to raise the store’s meat prices back in early July, but tried to ease the prices as much as he could for customers.

“It means we’re taking less margin on what we sell,” he says. “If we took our normal margins, it would make pricing out of sight.”