Restaurants Struggle as Pandemic Ends

July 15, 2021
As the pandemic winds down, restaurants are struggling with inflated prices for food.

As the pandemic winds down, restaurants are struggling with inflated prices for food, and an entrepreneur is trying to maintain momentum for food delivery by developing ghost kitchens in empty retail space.

Food prices are becoming especially problematic for independent restaurants, which don’t have the bargaining power of chains. Beef prices were up 5.6% in May and 10.5% in April compared with 2020, and the price of cooking oil has risen 35% since June 2020.

"We're eating some of the lost profit and trying to recover some of it by bumping prices up," a restaurateur told CNN.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition is asking the Biden administration to continue the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which shut down July 14. It is out of money after having disbursed $28.6 billion to more than $100,000 restaurants during the pandemic. A measure to allocate $60 billion more to the fund has been introduced in Congress.

One entrepreneur is trying to take advantage of plentiful retail space in shopping malls to develop ghost kitchens that are mostly or solely focused on takeout.

Sam Nazarian, a former hotelier, started Creating Culinary Communities, a company that brings ghost kitchens to mall food courts and other locations. His investors include Brookfield Management and Simon Property Group, two of the biggest U.S. shopping-mall owners.

Creating Culinary Communities will offer more than 40 brands, including concepts like Umami Burger and Krispy Rice, a delivery-only sushi restaurant. The first food hall will open in Manhattan West, a mixed-use cluster of four high-rises in New York City.

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