Inflation taking a bite out of Thanksgiving catering menus

Monique John Image
Thursday, November 24, 2022
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Some catering businesses have taken turkey off the menu as rising Inflation and high food costs have forced them to make tough choices.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Inflation and high food costs have led Americans to think outside the box when preparing their Thanksgiving meals to save money. Catering companies are no exception.

Business owners throughout the Triangle told ABC11 that the ongoing financial strain has forced them to get creative to stay afloat. That's meant pulling back on offering holiday traditions such as everyone's favorite centerpiece: the turkey.

Jelisa Montalvo is the owner and head chef of Dorothy's Catering 2 in Fayetteville. She says turkeys are hard to find this year because there's a shortage. The few that are available are just too expensive.

"Now, we're just doing the sides," Montalvo said. "So, of course, with that comes a lot of disgruntled customers because they want turkey, and of course, we just can't get them right now."

The US Department of Agriculture forecasted that turkey would be 23% more expensive this year. Also, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics says the price of food has risen by almost 11% in the past year.

"Before, we could do an order on Wednesday and it would come in on Thursday. Now we have to do orders two weeks in advance to make sure that we have everything that we need," Montalvo said

Montalvo said her business has resorted to using cheaper packaging to serve food. Despite her best efforts, she says the financial strain is hurting her employees, too.

"With inflation, it caused us not to be able to hire as many people. And the ones we've had on staff for a while, they're not able to get as many hours as they used to because it's just too costly," she said.

Brad McLawhorn of Two Brothers Catering says the inflation has been affecting his staffing, too. He and his co-owner are now becoming more reliant on their employees.

"We're having to take time away from here and go to various places to track down the products we may need," McLawhorn said.

Phillip Lin, the owner of Catering by Design in Cary, says his company still orders turkeys. However, Lin says buying and storing them is now more costly and complicated.

"Unfortunately, we have to pass the costs on to the customer," Lin said. "That's something we don't like to do here, especially because we like to offer people a fair price."

Finding scarce menu items has driven Lin's labor costs, too. Still, despite how hard it is these days to keep customers happy, Lin says his team isn't giving up.

"I want to let the consumer know that, you know, we're here," Lin said. "We're trying the best we can to provide you a good meal with a fair price."