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Restaurants in Arkansas hit 'hard and fast' by inflation

Some Arkansas restaurants are facing the problems that come with rising costs and whether to increase prices in order to meet inflation.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Inflation is a word we never want to hear, but it's all we can seem to talk about these days. 

A new poll shows most Americans disapprove of how President Joe Biden and the government are handling the issue that's hitting us at the grocery store, the gas pump and now, when we go out to eat. 

Some local restaurants in central Arkansas are having to raise prices to stay in business. 

The latest COVID-19 wave is bringing a different recipe of worries to the table, according to Mark Abernathy, Owner of Loca Luna and Red Door. 

"It's just so depressing, but it's a round of new problems that we didn't have in the last one, so it's real frustrating," he said.

A new round of problems, after two years of ups and downs for local owners like Rob Byford. 

"Our business, our sales looks very similar to a heart monitor and some of the time it's flatlined and it needs the paddles, so to speak," he said.

From payroll rates increasing to staffing shortages to supply issues, the list is pretty long. 

But the owner of several restaurants in Little Rock, Daniel Bryant, said the current spike in inflation is hitting them hard and fast.

"You don't want to pass anymore onto the consumer or the customer than you have to, but you know, you are having to do that just to stay in business," he said.

To put it into perspective, limes used to cost Abernathy about $15 a case. Now, it costs him $61. 

He said frying oil is up nearly 100% and classic breakfast foods, like eggs, are up 50%. 

"Unfortunately, independent local restaurants like mine and so many, we don't have those deep pockets that the national/international chains have," Abernathy said.

It's not just the inflation causing all the hiccups.

Byford said he's having to pay more money for smaller amounts of food because more of it is going to waste, as fewer guests come through the Library Kitchen & Lounge's doors.

"What the inflation has done, coupled with the variants of COVID has been, it's been brutal; specifically for downtown in the River Market," he said.

While no one can really guess when this inflation will actually end...

"At the end of the day, we need all the stars to align," Byford said.

Owners like Bryant are just having to take it day by day.

"Hold on and hopefully, it won't always be this way and I'm sure that it won't, we'll get there. Just everybody stick together," he said.

But, according to Abernathy, they need our help.

"I just hope they'll still be patient with us and help us get through it," he said.

All three owners said prices across the board have gone up. Everything from paper products to meat to alcohol.

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