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Shortages are driving up prices — and frustrations — at Hawaii restaurants

The restaurant industry will likely never return to its pre-pandemic state, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 5:38 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 20, 2022 at 5:44 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Fresh ingredients are the focus at the Pacific Club in downtown Honolulu.

But Executive Chef Eric Leterc says fallout from the global pandemic has made shortages — and price increases — the worst he’s ever seen. He says mahi mahi, once $8 per pound is now double that

“Seafood is definitely a big, big jump,” said Leterc.

He says overall costs have gone up 20% while prices and supplies of meat, dairy and other products are unstable. “Sometimes sorry there’s no more of that, no more of this,” he said, referring to what he’s forced to tell customers. “We have to deal with it and change the menus and be creative.”

Then there’s staffing shortages, which Leterc says are the most difficult.

The Pacific Club restaurant has about 25 employees and Leterc needs six more.

“We can’t find people,” he said.

The latest COVID surge means everyone works harder.

“It’s hard for us especially here in the morning. We have such a small crew if one of us goes down someone else has to fill in,” said cook Kyle Cabrera.

It’s unclear when pandemic hurdles will simmer down, but the good news is consumer demand is hot.

These food connoisseurs say what keeps them going through tough times is each other.

“It’s my coworkers. It’s fun over here. It’s one big family,” said Cabrera.

“Just keep on grinding,” he added.

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