Did a “local” restaurant put out this “today” note on inflation?

A “local restaurant in town” released a note on inflation and menu prices “today”.

Fact check

In mid-July 2022, a post circulated on social media highlighting the pain restaurants are going through due to inflation.

In large red type, the message begins with “A LOCAL RESTAURANT RELEASED THIS TODAY!!!!” He then lays out skyrocketing expenses for things like frying oil, chicken wings, and other items. Here’s a screenshot of the post, with the Facebook user’s name cropped for privacy:

The post represents a piece of copypasta, or an internet phenomenon in which text goes viral through users of the platform copying and pasting it and re-sharing it. Snopes readers have emailed and searched our website to see if the message is real.

As is the case with most cases of copypasta, because the content of the message has been removed from its original context, important information has been lost, such as when and where it was originally posted.

We traced the above image to an October 18, 2021 Instagram post created by Kwasi Moses, a chef (not a restaurant) based in Oakland, CA. We reached out to Moses via an email address and phone number found on his website and will update this story if we receive any feedback from him.

Speaking to KNTV, a Bay Area NBC station in November 2021, Moses said of the restaurant menu price hikes, “It’s not personal. Sometimes we have to pass the costs on to the consumer, and a lot of people, myself and other chefs and restaurant owners, don’t want to do that. But it’s the only way to break even, because if you keep your prices the same and your costs go up, you’re going to lose money and eventually go bankrupt.

We also reached out to the National Restaurant Association to ask if inflation is driving up the cost of operating food establishments. Spokesperson Vanessa Sink told us via email that “wholesale food prices (nationally) have risen more than 13% in the last 12 months. This is the largest 12-month increase in nearly 5 decades.

Sink pointed to the latest available producer price index from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which states:

Several of the major commodities in the wholesale food price index were well above their levels of a year ago in June, including eggs (156.1%), butter (60. 5%), flour (38.5%), fats and oils (29.4%), milk (22.0%), cheeses (21.7%), processed poultry (21.6%) and unprocessed finfish (20.0%). The fresh vegetables index jumped 34.9% over the past 12 months, while the fresh fruit and melons index rose 13.7%.

Sink also said a variety of factors can impact how cost increases affect different restaurants, including things like the brands and types of products they use. The region in which a restaurant or food service business operates can also have an effect on costs, Sink said:

It’s possible that a restaurant’s location may have an impact on it, not only because food or gas prices are higher in the area, but also because of local policies. For example, many places have policies that dictate the type of packaging that can be used for takeout orders or the types of single-use plastics that can be used in the restaurant. Different products have different prices, and these prices all change due to the costs of the inputs needed to create the product.

In short, this position was born with a chef and the cost of operating a restaurant has increased due to persistent inflation. However, because Moses’ post was shared outside of its original context, some aspects of it are likely not accurate for many readers who are unaware that it is him, and not a restaurant, that is the author. Additionally, Moses is a Bay Area “local” only; and therefore “in town” is only accurate for other Oakland residents. He originally created the post in October 2021, not “today” as the image above indicates.

Sources:

Sanchez, Kris. “Eating out? Why Bay Area restaurants keep raising prices. NBC Bay Area, November 15, 2021, https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/eating-out-why -bay-area-restaurants-continue-to-raise-prices/2732098/.

“Food costs.” National Restaurant Association, https://restaurant.org/research-and-media/research/economists-notebook/economic-indicators/food-costs/. Accessed July 18, 2022.

About Walter Bartholomew

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