New York restaurant ‘getting killed’ by inflation and crime spikes
Bobby Van’s Steakhouse owner Joseph Smith said soaring inflation and rising crime in New York City has cost him about $1 million in business a month between his eight restaurants.
“You take it all together and we get killed,” Smith told Fox News Digital, noting that crime and inflation have been “absolutely devastating” for businesses.
“Everything has gone up, from gas to my employees’ rents,” he said, noting that his employees had requested increases to account for higher costs.
Smith said he raised wages by $2 to $3 an hour depending on the position, but the move further impacted his bottom line.
“You can’t really say no when you know they have three kids and their rent is going up, their gas is going up, buying food is going up,” Smith said, noting that he also gives his employees chicken, rice and beans every Friday to help with inflationary pressure.
Smith also noted that he was “forced” to raise menu prices by 10-20% depending on the article as his labor and input costs soared.
INFLATION RISE 8.3% IN APRIL, DIP NEARLY 40 YEARS
“We’re looking at it again now, and we may have to make another move, which is the feeling of most restaurateurs,” Smith said. “We don’t want to do that because there’s only so much you can charge for a meal [and] there’s only what you can ask for a drink.”
Smith noted that he had to raise meat prices by 15% because “it went up 30% at my supplier.”
“I couldn’t pass the 30% on to the customer or I wouldn’t have any customers,” he continued, noting that he “had to eat a lot of that cost – 15% of it “.
Smith gave an overview of his business shortly after it was revealed that inflation had cooled on an annual basis for the first time in months in April, but rose more than expected as constraints supply chain, the Russian war in Ukraine and strong consumer demand continued to hold. consumer prices close to their highest level in 40 years.
The Labor Department said Wednesday that the consumer price index, a broad measure of the price of everyday goods, including gas, groceries and rents, rose 8.3% in April compared with a year ago, below the 8.5% year-on-year rise recorded in March. . Prices jumped 0.3% in the month-long period from March.
Those figures were both higher than the headline figure of 8.1% and the monthly gain of 0.2% predicted by economists at Refinitiv.
Food prices jumped 1% during the month, marking the 17th consecutive monthly increase for this index. The largest monthly increases were seen in dairy products (2.5%, the strongest monthly increase since 2007), meats, poultry, fish and eggs (1.4%), and grain and grain products. bakery (1.1%).
“Dairy products have exploded. Beef prices have exploded,” Smith pointed out.
“I can’t absorb that much and I can’t raise my prices before I start spiraling out of control,” he added, highlighting the complexity of the situation.
Smith noted that inflation has been a big problem as people don’t go out as much as a way to save money as the cost of necessities has skyrocketed. He pointed to crime in New York as another deterrent.
Overall crime in the city continues to rise, according to the most recent data from the New York Police Department.
Major crime is up 41.3% year-to-date compared to the same period last year, fueled by increases in thefts, burglaries, felony assaults and robberies, according to the latest statistics on crime until May 8.
Authorities said last month that many repeat offenders were fueling rising violence.
“It’s clear what we’re up against: a perception among criminals that there are no consequences, even for serious crimes,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at a press conference. in April.
Smith criticized New York’s bail reform law, which has come under heavy criticism from law enforcement and victim advocates, for allowing suspects to be released into the streets while awaiting trial. By law, courts are prohibited from setting monetary bail or holding defendants in pretrial detention in almost all types of misdemeanors, as well as a long list of crimes.
Smith noted that “everyone is ready” and letting the shootings and robberies happen in the city, while the police “can’t do anything” given that if they catch those responsible, “they release them the next day”. .
“So people leave town at 7 a.m., especially young people, especially women,” Smith said, noting that his patrons “talk openly about it at the bar.”
He said he had yet to close any of his eight restaurants, but feared he had no choice given all the difficulties. He said that every week he assessed the situation.
“It’s a disaster,” Smith said.
“And there is also a myth going around that everyone is back to work,” he added. “Not everyone is back to work. You have 40% of the workforce coming back to the city.”
He noted that all of his businesses are steakhouses with different clientele, but his location on 54th Street in Manhattan is directly impacted by current workforce dynamics.
“54th Street would have CEOs, presidents and corporate stuff, and they’re in Florida or the Hamptons,” he noted.
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“They’re my clients, and I don’t see them anymore. I see them once a week,” Smith added.
He noted that he does not expect his restaurants to reach pre-pandemic levels until December, when more tourists are expected to visit New York and more employees will hopefully return to their offices. .
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Fox News Louis Casiano and Megan Henney of FOX Business contributed to this report.