- Joey’s Chicken Shack has cut its hours and put salaries up because of the labor shortage.
- The restaurant in Pennsylvania is paying suppliers more for food products like chicken wings, too.
- Its owner told Insider he’s raised menu prices every month since May as a result.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The owner of a chicken restaurant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, says he’s raised menu prices every month since May because labor and food costs keep rising. Diners are now paying 25% more for some items.
Joseph Devor, who owns Joey’s Chicken Shack in Camp Hill, cut the restaurant’s opening hours on weekends due to understaffing, too.
Devor told Insider that before the pandemic he usually had between eight and 12 members of staff on the cafe’s rota.
“Throughout the pandemic has been difficult to maintain at least six at any given time,” he said, adding that he had to pull family members in after it fell to four at one point.
Devor raised wages from $US9 ($AU12) an hour to between $US10 ($AU14) and $US12 ($AU17) an hour to attract more staff, and started offering his full-time employees medical, vision, and life insurance after 60 days.
Speaking about staff wages, Devor said: “I think they deserve more. It’s just difficult because we started with very little and we have our bills to pay.”
Supply-chain problems, including labor shortages affecting industries from farming to trucking, have caused the prices of restaurant staples like fryer oil, chicken, and packaging to soar. Couple with the rising costs of labor, this has forced restaurants to hike up their menu prices.
Devor has assessed the restaurant’s prices every three months since the pandemic started. “And ever since May  we’ve increased prices every month,” he said.
“The first few times it was on specific areas of the menu, the last two times have been almost across the menu completely,” he added.
Between May and September, Joey’s Chicken Shack has put up the prices of both quesadilla and chicken tenders by 25%. Nachos have gone from $US9 ($AU12) to $US11 ($AU15) and tex-mex loaded fries with pico de gallo, and sour cream from $US9 ($AU12).79 to $US14 ($AU19).
Devor said he wanted to raise prices more so that he could pay his staff higher salaries, but that he was worried it would deter diners.
“Certain industries have relied on low wages for so long that it has been difficult to increase pricing to accommodate the increased expenses,” he said. “Some people are going to get uncomfortable with the level of increase that is going to come with certain pricing. Inflation is happening and the inability to keep wages low is going to add to it.”
Devor also dropped the restaurant’s minimum hiring age from 18 to 16, and closed the restaurant one day last month because he couldn’t get enough staff in.
Kelly’s Gingernut Pub in Cape Charles, Virginia, stopped takeaway and closed its kitchen earlier each day after being unable to find enough staff. Co-owner Colleen Kelley said she had changed the restaurant’s menu, too, after the price of both meat and fryer oil had roughly tripled.
Robin LaForge, who owns Cheniere Shack in West Monroe, Louisiana, decided to shut his restaurant for two days a week and close it earlier on the days it is open after its staffing fell by roughly three-quarters. He told Insider that this prompted him to restructure the menu and cut some specials, too.