Editor’s Note by Theri Burhan
Recently, I came across an announcement by a beloved local brand, myBurgerLab (Malaysia) that they will be switching their fries from regular medium cut fries to European shoestring fries due to a rapid price increase from RM85/box to RM140/box. We do not need to explain the reason for the hard decision Renyi and his team made.
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We’re all aware that the cost of living is increasing in general. However, for diners coming back to restaurants, there seems to be a delusion. The aftershocks from the pandemic are wiped out and things will pick up exactly where they were left off in 2019.
Restaurants of all sizes were already being pressed from multiple directions prior to the 2020 lockdowns. Owners have been absorbing costs and lowering margins for years. It is only appropriate to make adjustments during this season of reopenings, whether through price rises or ingredient substitutions, to compensate for lost time not only over the last two years, but also over several years prior to the pandemic.
Reopening has brought its own set of unforeseen challenges: inflationary pressures, severe labour shortage, uncertainty in the supply chains, rising food prices threaten to jeopardise the industry’s critically needed comeback.
In the coming months, restaurants will either change ingredients to match the same price, smaller portions, streamline menus, or raise menu pricing. In every decision, it is a tightrope that operators are threading, especially when it comes to the accessibility of anyone venting their dissatisfaction openly on social media. Operators are also mindful that customers are also feeling the pinch. Can operators, however, avoid it? Unfortunately not. These are the options for keeping the restaurant businesses afloat (pick one that will sting the least).
Restaurants and bars have demonstrated great resilience in the last two years, and I am proud of our industry. The demand for eating out is still high after two years of not being able to. Eating out is still one of life’s greatest joys.
Let’s be kinder to the hospitality people working tirelessly to give you a memorable dining experience. Let’s keep supporting our industry.