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BBQ restaurants feel the heat of inflation, one explains why

Posted at 10:19 PM, Apr 06, 2022

Meat prices are at a record high right now, sticking customers with bigger bills for beef, pork, and chicken at the grocery store. Inflation is also hitting barbecue restaurants, including Blue Door Smokehouse in Lexington, Kentucky.

“Everything is just going up penny by penny,” said co-owner Jeff Newman. “For brisket, probably 50 to 75% increase in price. Pork is probably 30 to 40, 50% increase. Chicken is almost 100% right now for us.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average price of beef is up to more than $10 a pound, about a 40% increase since the start of the pandemic.

Economists blame factors including worker shortages and rising grain prices. But, Newman says it’s not just beef that’s gotten more expensive.

"To-go boxes were once $.12, now they're $.25,” he said. “The little cup your sauce comes in with the lid was once seven cents, now it's $.12 or whatever.”

He says they’re trying to keep costs down, but customers could see another price change on the menu soon, including for the restaurant’s specialty, which is brisket. They were forced to raise the price in November to $17 a pound.

“We're trying to stay in line and keep those price increases to a minimum, but at a certain point it does cut into profit and we have to make those decisions for the business,” Newman said. He said they pride themselves on keeping meals affordable, so he hopes hungry customers will understand how inflation is impacting their prices.

Newman said he hopes to see some relief in the next few months.

This story was originally published by Evelyn Schultz of WLEXin Lexington, Kentucky.