The National Restaurant Association’s new survey finds that the economy is disrupting service across the industry

WASHINGTON, August 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Running a restaurant is now a daily turn of Jenga®, with operators carefully pulling back from the foundations of their operating plans to support new supports in a changing economy.

The costs of the commodities restaurants need most have continued to accelerate, and according to a new survey released today by the National Restaurant Association, 46% of operators say business conditions are worse now than they were three months ago.

The revelation follows an earlier survey in which 43% of operators said they think conditions will worsen in the next six months, which was the highest level of pessimism since 2008.

“Running a restaurant is a balancing act that requires adaptation and innovation, two areas where restaurants excel,” said Michelle Korsmo, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “And while operators are more pessimistic about the economy, they are working hard to continue to provide quality and value to customers. Serving great food, providing exceptional service and creating an unforgettable experience remains the foundation of any restaurant.”

Findings from the new survey highlight how current economic conditions are disrupting the industry.

Rising costs are limiting restaurant operations

Approximately 95% of a restaurant’s sales dollars go to food, labor and operating costs – all of which are increasing every month. While bulk food prices have risen 16.3% in the past 12 months, menu prices have risen just 7.6% over the same period and only 16% of operators report adding fees or surcharges to customer checks. The result: Profits are suffering. 85% of operators say their restaurant is less profitable than it was in 2019.

  • In the new survey, 88% of operators said their total food and beverage costs are higher than in 2019, and overall, many other costs have increased.
    • 65% of operators say their total housing costs are higher than in 2019
    • 80% of operators say their total service costs are higher than in 2019
    • 94% of operators say their other operating costs (supplies, G&A, etc.) are higher than in 2019

“Consumers are seeing prices rise faster at grocery stores than at restaurants and see added value in spending their grocery dollars at restaurants. However, moderate menu price increases are not offsetting rising input costs and it’s forcing operators to cut hours, change their menus, postpone expansions and reduce third-party deliveries,” Korsmo said.

Pandemic debt has arrived and operators cannot pay

During the first two years of the pandemic, 65% of restaurants took out new credit debt to adapt their business models and continue operating. According to the new survey, the loans were a mix of government forgivable loans, government disaster loans and private sector loans.

  • Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans were the most common – received by 59% of operators.
  • 48% of operators received an economic disaster loan (EIDL) issued by the US Small Business Administration or lending partner.
  • 31% received a loan for the private sector from a bank, credit card or other entities.

“For many operators who have taken EIDL loans, the grace period will soon end and it will be an overwhelming challenge for a majority of them to start repayment now,” said Korsmo. “According to our last survey, of the operators who have not started repaying the loan, only 23% say they will be able to make the principal and interest payments. Another 46% expect to be able to pay the principal, but not the estimated 30 months. interest”.

Restaurants are slowly adding jobs to return to pre-pandemic employment levels

A large majority of restaurants are still actively looking to fill positions – even as they face the headwinds of a slowing economy. Despite the addition of 74,000 jobs in July, in the new survey, 65% of operators report that they do not have enough employees to support customer demand, and 84% of operators say they are likely to hire additional employees over the next six months. next.

  • 19% of full-service operators say their restaurant is currently more than 20% below required staffing levels.
  • 21% of limited service operators say their restaurant is more than 20% below required staffing levels.
  • 81% of operators say their restaurant currently has vacancies that are difficult to fill.

“Dinners choose restaurants for the hospitality and experiences they receive at our tables, and we hire talented people to create that atmosphere. While many industries have begun to slow their hiring, ours continues to rebuild our workforce. The restaurant industry has good-paying jobs. available at every experience level to people from every background. And these jobs provide the skills needed to be successful in any career and in life,” Korsmo said.

The National Restaurant Association Research Group conducted its new operator survey of 4,200 restaurant operators July 14 – August 5, 2022. Find a report of key findings here.

About the National Restaurant Association

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the premier trade association for the restaurant industry, which includes nearly 1 million restaurant and food service locations and a workforce of 14.5 million employees. Along with 52 state associations, we are a network of professional organizations dedicated to serving every restaurant through advocacy, education and food safety. We sponsor the industry’s largest trade show (National Restaurant Association Show); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique high school career-building program (NRAEF’s ProStart). For more information, visit and find @WeRRestaurants at I tweetFacebook and YouTube.

SOURCE National Restaurant Association

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