My week just got off to a bad start. Another local business has closed it's doors. The Corner Hoagies and Hops in Downtown Huntington has just announced on its Facebook page that it is ceasing operations immediately. This comes on the heels of Charlie Grainger's Hot Dogs closing around the corner just a month ago.
True, it does seem the circle of life for restaurants. One opens and one closes. It is great to see new restaurants coming but it tightens the competition.
COVID was hard on all business as it closed down businesses and then inside dining was closed for a while. Even though Corner Hoagies and Hops opened after the lockdowns, it still has an effect.
A lot of people started eating at home more after restaurants opened back up. The labor market drastically changed after restaurants reopened. Suddenly, it was hard to find workers. Many places closed down just because of that and some shortened their hours. Some places gave raises just to get workers and that cut into profits.
A trucker shortage caused supply and food shortage. Suddenly, the restaurants were struggling to find basic items and supplies. This was particularly rough on small restaurants because large suppliers took care of their big customers and chain restaurants first and often quit service to the indies.
Now, raging inflation is causing restaurants to have to raise prices. One owner told me this weekend, "I hate to do it. But, I have no choice. I have been putting it off but my profit margin is too small. If I don't raise my prices, I will certainly be out of business. I will lose customers but I don't have a choice."
New restaurants are opening. In Downtown Huntington alone, the last couple of months has seen the opening of The Carnival Place; Boots, Spirits, and Feed; and The Goods (a convenience store but serves food and a deli). There is only so much money to go around and another slice of the pie means a thinner slice of profits for most places.
Times will continue to get harder as inflation soars. None of the problems facing small businesses seem to have a solution readily available. Please remember our local businesses. They really need us in these tough times.