Restaurants costs rise due to high food prices

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KKCO) -- You may be less likely to pick up the tab as restaurants across the country are feeling the heat from the summer's drought, including the Grand Valley.

From fine dining to breweries and everything in between, local restaurants are trying to keep menu prices the same, they say they are preparing for the worst. Once 2013 hits, owners may have no choice but to raise your bill.

"Feed prices have gone up dramatically," said Steve Thoms, owner of The Winery restaurant in downtown Grand Junction.

Thoms and restaurant owners nationwide say it could get worse.

"We have such a low yield from the farming crops this summer; there's going to be a shortage of feed next summer," said Thoms, who has been in the restaurant business for 30 years.

Thomas says until it becomes more economical to feed cattle, meat prices will remain high.

"Because it was more expensive to feed the cattle, there ended up being a very short supply of prime grade beef this summer," explained Thoms.

And if those prices remain high, Thoms may be forced to raise menu prices.

"If there's going to be a dramatic spike, like there might be this winter. We might have to adjust," said Thoms.

Thoms relies on customer loyalty and excellent service to get through rough times.

"We're here to take care of our guests. It's not about the dollars; money is made in the business model," said Thoms.

Breweries, too, rely heavily on flour for pizza and grain for beer.

"We've seen a rise in prices-- corn, grain. That affects us directly through the flour that we purchase," said Eric Ross, partner and general manager of Kannah Creek Brewing Company in Grand Junction.

Ross, a 25-year veteran of the restaurant business, is also eating the costs.

"We just felt that at this time and place isn't the prudent thing. We felt that the best choice was to continue to try to offer meals at the most affordable price, and maintain that loyalty that we've had in the Grand Valley," added Ross.

Ross is also using innovative ways to save money, such as water conservation.

"Trying to manage the waste water that does come out. If we can use that for other means, we've reduced the amount of time that we water our lawns, like a lot of people did. We didn't use our misters on the patio this year," said Ross.

And while the restaurant business will always be cut-throat, owners continue to try and help protect your pocketbook.

"Price is an issue with people, and we try and value that as well into our pricing. We try to be fair with our customers," said Thoms, owner of the Winery in Grand Junction.

Expensive gas is also driving up costs. According to the U.S. Labor Department, consumer prices rose 0.06 percent in September. Analysts expect overall food costs to rise by as much as 20 percent by year's end.

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