Dining out will take a bigger bite out of your wallet
A rise in the cost of food is coming down on pocketbooks.
Essentials like meat, dairy and oil now cost more — pushing local bars and restaurants to adapt.
"I have to move my prices up obviously. I haven't been able to hold it off this long but it keeps getting more and more expensive," said Mark Durocher, owner of MD's Sports Bar and Smokehouse.
He has been forced to raise prices for the first time since he opened up shop five years ago.
"Basically, I've had to up my liquor sales at one point," Durocher said. "About three weeks ago, I put the prices up a bit and now I'm moving toward putting the menu pricing in place. I'm thinking maybe a 15 to 20 per cent increase."
Durocher said that increase is in line with the rise in the cost to buy ingredients. A sore point, the cost of oil for the fryers. He said the price has gone from about $17 to $40, even $45 at some places.
"That's three times the oil cost roughly that I would use in a week for fries. Fruit and vegetables are up. Meats are up... The item I'm most concerned with is your day-to-day like proteins, breads, grains. Even chicken soup base has gone up. It's everything," said Durocher.
Another established pub in downtown Windsor is dealing with the same issue. Haley Olgan, general manager of The Loose Goose RestoPub and Lounge said menu prices were first raised in January to keep up with the rising cost of food. Now, menu prices will be going up again.
"It's going to be what we're known for -- our chicken wings and our oil," said Olgan,
"Chicken wing prices have gone up a lot because a lot of the factories have had to shut down... Even our beer costs. Not just food. Our beer costs have gone up five to 10 per cent."
Newer businesses like Windsor Kabob House are finding it harder to absorb the cost increases. Owner Reza Mehravari worries about raising prices and potentially discouraging his new customers, so to keep menu prices steady, he is buying more in bulk.
"I used to buy the stuff that I use here for weekly usage or daily usage. Now, to balance the price, I just buy it in bigger volume. That way you get a little discount from the supplier. I'm spending more but this way, I can levelize the price on the menu," he said.
Culinary program at St.Clair College also impacted
The rise in food costs is also affecting St Clair College's culinary management program. The program is eating up a 15 to 20 per cent cost increase.
Michael Jimmerfield, a culinary management professor, said cooking cost-effectively is a way of life for everyone in the restaurant business.
"How can I repurpose, resave, reuse. How do I use that trim from this protein item? How do I freeze, save, preserve? For chefs and cooks, it's truly a way of life. So we review and revisit those things on a regular-basis," he said.
Food supply has also become unreliable. He said it can take a lot longer to get a bulk supply of common ingredients.
"With the culinary program, unlike a regular restaurant, where we change our proteins on a weekly basis depending on the curriculum, sometimes we come across what we think are relatively common proteins that are just not available or special order, but you just can't get it," Jimmerfield said.
"Or it's something you thought you should be able to call in today and get in at the end of the week, but sometimes, you're just waiting. They say 'sorry, you've got to give me three weeks to get that'!"
At this point Jimmerfield said costs will not be passed on to students in the culinary program.