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Local restaurants struggling with inflation and finding workers

Jackie's Dream and Harby's Pizza and Deli said they are struggling with food prices and the prices to print menus.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In a Facebook post, the owners of Harby's Pizza & Deli said their restaurant hasn't been able to re-open their dining room, even as more people get vaccinated for COVID-19 and the number of reported cases dwindle. They said their biggest concerns are staffing levels and the rate of inflation. 

The post said the restaurant has run at a "small loss" since 2021 because of the rising cost of food and other items. The price of some services has also increased faster than they can manage. 

"Now it's, 'Deliver your food, plus pay $20 to have it delivered,'" said Carl Clements, the owner of the restaurant.

He said he saw prices increase over the past two years. Some of those cost increases are listed below.

  • Food increased anywhere between 15% and 200%
  • Dumpsters went from $150 to $220 a month
  • Pizza boxes increased by 200%

Clements said the restaurant is in the process of ordering a new menu, this one without prices. He said the restaurant would have to raise prices to stay afloat. 

"It's either raise the price of our food, or shut down," the owners said on the social media post. 

Clements also said it's hard to find people to fill customer service jobs. He said customers are getting angry at his employees a lot more than they used to, often yelling at them and treating them without respect.

"People don't want to go to work if somebody's going to yell at them," Clements said. 

Jackie's Dream, a Soul Food restaurant in North Knoxville said they are hoping to make around half of the revenue as they did before the pandemic. 

Their owner said the price of food has gone so high, that he now shops around to three different suppliers rather than one. The owner said it would make more sense to list 'market price' next to each item on the menu, but that's not possible. 

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