Like many businesses across the country, restaurants in The Valley are seeing supply chain delays caused by the pandemic.
“I’ve had deliveries not show up until after service,” Scott Liberty of Worthy Burger Too, Waitsfield, said. “I’ve lost delivery days I used to have. Supplies are definitely being halted.” Liberty said paper products, which are largely imported, have been the biggest issue, though some other products, such as chicken, have also seen price increases due to supply issues. “I just brought back wings because the price was too high to pass on to customers,” he said. He said their main purveyors are experiencing delays in getting their products from the suppliers to the restaurant.
Charlie Menard of Canteen Creemee Co., Waitsfield, echoed those sentiments. “There’s definitely always shortages of takeout containers,” he said. “Being a takeout restaurant, we use quite a few of those. It’s become almost a constant worry for me. I need to be thinking so far ahead.” He said he’s found himself ordering much more than usual to ensure they won’t run out of products. “Then it’s like, ‘Am I part of the problem?’ I’m not hoarding, not ordering more than I need, just ordering ahead.”
In terms of food products, he said there’s nothing he hasn’t been able to get but agrees that price increases are a major issue. “Everything’s up,” he said. Talking to a meat supplier, he said everything on their menu is up about $2.50 per pound, which makes him have to decide whether to charge more or not offer certain items. Canteen hasn’t had to change its menu due to price increases or supply chain problems yet, but, Menard added, “It’s probably going to happen at some point. It’s frustrating.” He said a lot of American companies lack the staff to produce and ship the products businesses like his need. “Everybody’s short-staffed is really the challenge.”
Sarina Galisano at the Sweet Spot, Waitsfield, said they too have been experiencing delays in takeout supplies. She said she’s had to adapt and allow plenty of time for ordering products and keep on top of inventory. She has seen prices increase on some products but so far hasn’t had to make changes to the menu as a result. Because the Sweet Spot sources as many products as possible locally, they haven’t been greatly impacted by purveyors’ price increases in products like meat and vegetables. She asked that customers “be adaptable, patient and understanding” while many restaurants are dealing with these issues.
SHIPPING FROM EUROPE
“It seems like beverages are almost back to normal,” said Chris Alberti at Peasant, Waitsfield. He said he’s seen most delays in products shipping from Europe, such as cornichons, snails and Dijon mustard from France. He said deliveries have been coming late, at times just as they’re opening for service. He also said the price of seafood has increased substantially, as has chicken and beef, and they have had to increase some prices accordingly.
At Toast and Eggs, Waitsfield, Malcolm Piper said he experienced issues throughout the summer in sourcing soft drinks, juices, sodas, bottled water, iced tea and lemonade. That issue is ongoing.
Piper also said that pricing has gone up, particularly on meat with bacon and sausage almost doubling in price. He said there were also problems with shortages of things like avocados and blueberries.
“There have been shortages of things like spoons and chairs and other restaurant supplies from commercial retail sites. And things like chairs – you might have been able to buy chairs for $50 last year, but now all those less expensive chairs are gone and you have to buy a more expensive model for $100,” he said.
Maggie Carr, owner of Three Mountain Café in Waitsfield, said disposable cups have been an issue throughout COVID.
“It’s been a constant. When we can get them, we’re ordering a bunch instead of just ordering them as needed. Food wise, bagels have been surprisingly hard to get with some varieties even harder to get,” she said.
She also saw shortages of paper goods and said that she is just approaching her one-year anniversary of owning the business so hasn’t been able to sit down and track prices to see if they have increased.
Ted Brothers, executive chef at Sage in Waitsfield, said last season there were issues with products being doled out in smaller portions than ordered.
“If you needed 40 pounds of something and the supplier only had 4,000 pounds you might get 20 pounds of what you ordered so that others could also get some of that product. Now we’re seeing more options and are sourcing some things – like calamari – from other sources,” Brothers said.
He said prices are up across the board with seafood up 25-39% across the board.
Ana Dan, owner of the Hyde Away, Fayston, and Sage, said her labor costs are up by 50% and that that will impact pricing.
Brett Seymour, one of the founders of Collaborative Brewing, Waitsfield, said the brewery and taproom hadn’t experienced too many issues, other than deliveries of hops taking longer.
“We are seeing price increases. Grain has been steadily increasing and can costs are up. We use a mobile canning line and the company just raised its prices,” he said.
At the taproom, where seafood is offered along with snacks, lobster prices were up throughout the summer and have not come down.
At Lawson’s Finest Liquids, also in Waitsfield, founder Sean Lawson said that grain prices are up and that the company supplying the preprinted cans is no longer going to have a warehouse. As a result, rather than ordering five pallets of cans at a time, the brewery needs to order 25 and find storage for them. Lawson also said that hiring has become difficult.
Jason Lerner, owner of Pizza Soul in Waitsfield, said that he’d noticed increased prices across many ingredients as well as difficulty sourcing some items, including those he purchase next door at Mehuron’s Supermarket. Lerner is working on offering some lunch specials and desserts as well.