Menu prices up, chicken wing shortage in metro Atlanta

Now that restaurants are open again, some of what you see on the menu might surprise you - higher prices. 

The pandemic created a domino effect that means from farm to the table, the journey costs more. And you will pay more.

Matt Coggin of D.B.A. Barbecue opened his freezer, "We have stocked up on more wings. Hopefully, this will get us through the weekend."

Among other things, this year might go down as the summer of the great chicken wing shortage.

"They just never caught up after Super Bowl. Several plants had to shut down for various reasons and they could just never catch up," said the part-owner of this Virginia-Highland BBQ staple. 

Coggin said thank goodness for good community support because shortages in many menu items caused by plant disruption, labor strikes, and no delivery drivers are driving menu prices up.

So this summer, no half-priced wings on Wednesdays. 

"A case went from $86 a case to as high as $164 a case, so we had to raise our prices," he said. 

In the nearby community of the Old Fourth Ward, Juan Calle’s new hot spot Buena Vida Tapas & Sol is bustling again, but with small-plate prices bumping up.

"You might see each item going up $1, $2. What I don’t want is for our guests to think that we are trying to make extra profit off of them," Calle said.

And increased labor costs factor into menu pricing, too.

"We are seeing across the board labor is up between 10 and 15% depending on what positions you’re looking for," Calle said. 

But get this: restaurants are paying more than they did before the pandemic, but they still can’t fill the jobs, Coggin said. 

"Any given day we’d have five, six interviews. No one showed up."

It’s a tightrope walk right now. People are ready to go out to eat. There are waitlists for seating again. But part of that is because restaurants can’t use all of their tables yet because they don’t have the staff.

"At the same time we are trying to ramp up our volume, we still need to be mindful of our staff and making sure they can handle the volume that is coming into the restaurant," Calle said.

The great news is that customers are coming back and tipping servers more than they did pre-pandemic. So visit your favorite food spot again. Just bring along a side of patience and a few extra bucks.

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