Open sign at restaurant (Image used under license from Shutterstock.com)
Lynn Minges, president and CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, says that while COVID-19 may be in the rearview mirror, the pandemic brought several challenges that continue to linger.
“There are many kind of unexpected, lingering challenges that COVID sort of brought to bear that we’re still dealing with today,” Minges said.
Minges points to high costs as a primary example.
“Things like inflation,” she said, “We saw supply chain disruptions, which have mostly settled down, but the cost of goods remains high. And some of that started with supply chain disruptions.”
Despite high prices for food and labor, Minges said that restaurants don’t have much room to raise their menu prices.
“Their labor costs are higher than they’ve ever been,” she said. “They are saying that the cost of goods are higher than they’ve ever been. …But they’re also kind of bound on the other side with price sensitivity. Because there is a saturation point there is a point at which diners, you know, have less aptitude or less interest in dining out. And so they’re very much sensitive to that.”
Despite these challenges, Minges said the restaurant industry in North Carolina remains promising.
“It’s never easy being in the restaurant business,” she said, “but you know, good folks can still make a good living in it. And the one thing they all enjoy is welcoming guests and serving them and creating memorable experiences.”
Lynn Minges, president and CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, was the guest on this week’s edition of ‘Carolina Newsmakers’ with Don Curtis. You can listen to the latest episodes here.