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The #1 Way Your Restaurant Bill Will Go Up in the Days Ahead

There are many reasons why your meal out will be more expensive, but this one thing is going to make the biggest impact.
Waiter handing a bill to a customer at a restaurant

Like many of us, you're probably excited to start dining at restaurants again once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted; however, that excitement may subside after you take a look at your next restaurant bill.

After months of dining rooms being forced to shut down and billions of dollars in lost revenue, restaurants are facing an incredibly steep uphill battle to get back in the black. The most obvious way restaurant owners are planning to grow profits is by encouraging people to dine out again. Another way, unfortunately for you, is to increase prices.

The surprising thing is that restaurants aren't increasing prices to recoup lost revenue, they're doing it for a specific reason: to combat rising meat prices.

In April, dozens of meat processing plants had to shut down due to coronavirus outbreaks, which has caused a meat shortage. "As pork, beef and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain," Tyson Foods—the largest supplier of meat in the U.S.—said in a blog post. "As a result, there will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed."

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The limited meat supply has caused the price of meat to go up significantly. In fact, fresh meat prices have increased anywhere between 4.3% and 8.1% by the end of April, and prices could increase by 20% in the coming months.

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As a result, restaurants have had to either raise menu prices or add a "COVID-19 surcharge" to bills. Unsurprisingly, customers are not happy. There has been a lot of backlash online as diners have started to see these surcharges on their bills. The main issue is that people did not understand that the surcharge was specifically related to the rising food costs and not just because restaurants are looking to make up for months of lost revenue.

So next time you visit a restaurant and notice that your bill is a bit higher than what you're used to, now you know it's likely to counteract rising food costs. And ultimately it will be a small price to pay to eat at your favorite restaurant again. The next time you do, make sure to go in armed with 7 Mistakes You Should Avoid at Dine-in Restaurants.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is a senior editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more