New York restaurants face shortages of menu items and ingredients

Onondaga County

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR) — If there was a word to describe restaurants during the pandemic, it would be short. First, they were short on workers. Now, they’re short supplies because their vendors are low on essentials.

“It’s questionable when the truck comes in the following day—what’s going to be on it,” said Ale ‘N’ Angus owner Randy Beach. “They’re just so short on so many things like mozzarella sticks, and anything that’s labor-intense to make.”

Chicken wings have been in short supply. Beach said shortages now include onion rings, anything breaded—even bread. He’s had to switch vendors and even go to the grocery store to get his supply. And there are more shortages: “The oil,” he said. “The oil shortage is just—it’s killing us. We need the oil for deep frying and things like that.”

Beach said his customers understand when they’re out and have to substitute. As for the staffing shortage, the situation is improving. “We’re up to around eight now, part-timers. We’re still looking to get back up around 12,” Beach explained. “We’re getting there.”

It’s a challenging time, but says everyone is doing the best they can to adjust. Beach said that it’s going to take some time for supplies to go back to normal numbers as all industries and vendors are dealing with a staffing shortage.

In addition to the shortages, restaurants soon won’t be able to use styrofoam to-go containers, and there’s going to be an added cost for oil-based or sugarcane-based alternatives. “The cost on these things alone are three times what we pay for styrofoam,” Beach said, “Styrofoam is, of course, going to be outlawed for us to use at the first of the year.” He said some restaurants are already charging customers for to-go containers.

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