Rising costs hurting restaurants and customers in the Valley

Restaurant workers
Posted at 3:21 PM, Aug 22, 2021

PHOENIX — A local restaurant chain is increasing prices after its suppliers doubled their price for some of their ingredients.

Burrito Express, an Arizona-based Mexican restaurant, announced plans to increase prices after their suppliers started charging more for items like chicken and carne asada.

Nationwide, menu prices have increased about 4.6% since last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Additionally, the food away from home index rose 0.8% in July, its largest monthly increase since Feb. 1981, according to the department.

"Six to eight months ago, me and my brother were just sitting there like, 'business is killing it,'" said Angel Marin, co-owner of Burrito Express.

"Things have just gone downhill," he added.

According to a tweet posted by Marin, a 40-pound case of chicken went from $40 to $80. Meantime, a pound of carne asada jumped from $3.25 to $6.

Burrito Express tweet

"Food costs are crazy," he said.

"Can't get repairs, can't get anything fixed and if you do, it costs you an arm and a leg," Marin added.

Marin said he's also paying employees more and in some cases offering them bonuses. However, he said some applicants have declined positions because they make more on unemployment.

"Why would you go to work when you could stay home... and make more money," he said.

Marin told ABC15 he offers a good wage and a chance to move up in the company.

"I was built different, some of us were built different," he said.

"People nowadays -- why would you go to work when you can stay at home and make the same money," he added.

The company told ABC15 it plans to charge about 35 cents more per burrito.

Marin admitted sales are still good but the company's profit margin has taken a hit. He said small businesses are important because they support the local economy and the community through donations and sponsorships.

"We won't be able to do that kind of stuff if we're not here," he said.

According to Marin, the increase in costs has slowed plans to build new restaurants. Still, he said he hopes to open a couple more locations in the near future.