(WTVO) — Illinois restaurants are still wading through the aftermath of COVID-19 shutdowns, rising payroll costs, and a host of other issues that are pulling them in numerous directions.
“It’s not a fun time to be an owner of a restaurant right now, especially at the higher end of the dining spectrum,” Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Todd Maisch tells The Center Square.
According to Maisch, prices on just about everything a restaurant needs to operate on a daily basis continue to rise.
“It’s not just the underlying price of food, it’s everything that goes into putting a plate in front of a customer or, you know, handing somebody a take-out order,” he said. “All those costs have gone up, so it’s undoubtedly increased the cost of eating out.”
To weather the storm, some eateries are starting to pass on carrying higher-end dishes like lobster, replacing it with chicken and other staples.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Illinois server minimum wage is $7.20 per hour in 2022 at both casual and fine-dining restaurants. Data shows that servers at fine-dining establishments are still making more because their customers tend to tip better even in times of extended inflation.