Wisconsin restaurants seeing increases in menu prices, staff shortages amid inflation

73% of restaurants in the state don't have enough workers to meet demand
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 10:22 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Over the last year-and-a-half, Wisconsin restaurants have had their hands full.

“We’ve had about a 20-25% increase in wages, as well, going along at the same time,” says Susan Quam, Executive Vice President, Wisconsin Restaurant Association. “So labor costs have gone up 25%, the supplies have gone up 20-25%, and then throw in energy costs for gas and electric.”

Leaving them to think outside the box and make tough decisions. “A lot of operators have had to look at every cost saving they can find,” said Quam. “They’re re-tooling their menus, putting different products on, getting rid of certain types of menu items.”

Quam says while prices are starting to level off, but adds there’s no hope for prices to drop.

“They really haven’t gone down very much, if they’ve gone down at all,” said Quam. “It’s been pretty static at least for what restaurant operators are paying their suppliers.”

Staffing within restaurants also remains a significant issue. According to the WRA, 73% of restaurants don’t have enough employees to support existing demand. Customer reaction has been divided.

“People are very understanding and know the worker shortage,” said Quam. “But on the consumer side, not excited about an average 8-10% increase in menu pricing.”

While restaurants will continue to experience challenges, they remain resilient. Quam said many restaurants are finding unique ways to keep business flowing and owners are constantly sharing information with each other so that everyone can benefit.