Some businesses were prepared for a meat shortage, others had no control
SPOKANE, Wash. — The pandemic is now affecting the meat supply, creating a ripple effect to many other industries. Restaurants now have to jump another hurdle, and stores busy with customers trying to buy.
“What else can I get for you guys?” A staff member asked a customer at Sonnenberg’s Market and Deli. The store has been busy for weeks now, staff working countless hours to serve all the new customers coming in.
Dan Englehart, the store manager, told 4 News Now they’ve seen more than a hundred new customers coming in a day.
“The times I open the doors in the morning, we have anywhere from 15 to 20 people at a time. Some days we have people lined up all the way down the street,” Englehart said.
Nationwide there have been reports of a disruption of meat supplies. Some of your favorite fast food places could soon have a limited menu because they can’t find meat.
However, Sonnenberg’s was ready for what was coming. Englehart told 4 News Now they prepared so well back in March, they have enough stock for the next two to three months at the rate they’re selling now.
“We decided, you know, we’ve got the cooler space and the freezer space that we can go out and buy and stay ahead of the game, instead of trying to play catch up the whole time,” Englehart said.
Englehart says the store has up to eight distributors; it could be tough to find meat here and there, but it’ll still come in when it can.
The store hasn’t put a limit on how much a customer can buy yet. But, there have been some other changes. The store normally sells specialty meat boxes, but had to stop for the time being because they’d be losing money on it.
Prices went up as they purchased from their suppliers, so the store had to increase the price as well. For example, Sonnenberg’s boneless ribeyes went up $2 per pound.
“Ground beef has gone up a little bit, it’s hard to find,” Englehart said.
As the prices go up for meat and are harder to come by, it’s another hit to the restaurant industry.
It’s a different scene at Chaps, compared to Sonnenberg’s. Chaps has been closed for the last month and half, and is now preparing for its Mother’s Day curbside pickup along with being able to finally open again in the coming weeks.
“For any restaurant that has already razor thin margins and will have a restriction of capacity, there’s a new challenge of rewriting menus and being adaptable to whatever the market will have to offer us,” said Celeste Shaw, the owner of Chaps.
She’s working closely with her food vendors, figuring out what they can offer to customers. It can be tough to change it up, because people are used going to Chaps for its menu and what they offer. The same could be said for the chefs who perfected that food known to the restaurant.
“The other challenge of that for restaurants is we take pride in quality and what we have already been creative with, so nobody wants to get a lesser than perfect product so you can maintain your credibility and integrity,” she said.
It is an obstacle she’s willing to overcome.
“Sometimes a challenge can also generate creativity and be inspiring to do something new and different,” she told 4 News Now.
It’s also a fine line, because as prices go up for some products, she has to find a balance for her business and customers.
“We want to keep things affordable. We want to know what the median prices are that people can afford, who also may have lost their jobs and are deciding whether to eat out,” she explained.
Whether it’s trying to keep things in stock or finding a creative way to keep a restaurant going, both are trying to keep serving the best they can with what they’re given, because the community deserves it.
“I honestly believe if I had to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, someone would come and buy a few of them just to be supportive,” Shaw said. “We have that kind of community which is rare and we can never take that for granted, the conviction and tenacity.”
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