Foggy Bottom restaurants raise prices amid inflated food costs

Media Credit: Krishna Rajpara | Photographer

As supply chain issues linger, Foggy Bottom restaurants have not been immune to the effects of inflation.

The price of food is on the rise, and campus hotspots like GW Deli, Tonic and Carvings are feeling the effects along their majority student clientele.

Food prices have already risen by more than 7 percent since the start of the new year to the end of February, according to the Agriculture Department’s latest report. Foggy Bottom restaurant owners said this period of inflation have put them in a tough situation where menu price hikes seem to be the only feasible remedy.

The report predicts prices in general to raise at least 4.5 to 5.5 percent from the current rates and expects take-out and dine-in prices to inflate between 5 and 6.5 percent in the coming months.

John Ambrogi, the owner of GW Deli, said the campus staple prides itself on providing food at reasonable prices for its customers, a majority of whom are college students who have to budget their meals. Ambrogi said he has never seen prices of food and produce as high as they are now.

“Labor costs are our biggest expense along with supplier chains,” Ambrogi said. “In the past few weeks our shelves have been half empty. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

He said the prices of foodstuffs like eggs, bacon, produce and beverages have been “skyrocketing,” which in return has pushed the Deli to raise their prices.

“Soon the price of a sandwich might look like $10 a piece,” Ambrogi said. “I don’t like it. I’m not happy to raise our prices, but we have to pay our employees somehow.”

Tonic’s marketing and event’s coordinator, Anastasia Kochnowicz, echoed similar sentiments on dealing with supply chains coming out of the pandemic and into a period of high inflation.

“Prices fluctuate on a week-by-week basis, making it hard to predict,” Kochonwicz said. “Suppliers are keeping prices high, having taken advantage of COVID. Its greed at the top, the majority of chicken supply is owned by four companies that keep prices high.”

She said Tonic has changed its pricing recently, most notably taking the 99-cent chicken wings deal off the menu. In addition to poultry, she said Tonic has also faced inflation in seafood supply as well as produce like lemons and limes, which are crucial to the restaurant’s notoriety as a campus happy hour hotspot.

“It’s never fun having to raise prices,” Kochnowicz said. “But we are a locally owned small business. We have to pay employees, so we do what we have to do. No one wants to pay $20 for a burger, but we still offer our GWorld $10 burger deal for the students here on campus.”

Tomas Castillo, the manager of Carvings, said he estimates that they have had to increase their prices by about 3 percent to keep up with the rising costs of meat and produce.

“Drinks as well, crazy, insane prices,” Castillo said. “We’re a business. We have to take action to keep things going if we want to survive.”

Castillo said he has to keep his mind on rent and building fees while the prices continue to skyrocket.

“We still have other costs to cover, you know,” Castillo said. “Rent, electricity, labor – it all adds up.”

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