Spanish restaurants confront inflation crisis

  Increase the price or reduce the cost of dishes? This is the existential problem facing Spanish caterers.
  There is a restaurant called “La Casa” in the affluent district of Madrid. Chef and partner Cesar Martin is the soul pillar of this restaurant. While the restaurant doesn’t have a Michelin star (which Martin says he doesn’t seek), it’s not a cheap market tavern either. The average price of the set menu in the store is around 60 euros. For example, Cadiz white croaker marinated with annatto is priced at 33.5 euros (17.8 euros half), and a 40-day-aged steak served with Catalan grilled seasonal vegetables and French fries is priced at 34 euros One serving (18.8€ half serving). La Casa restaurant is best at making dishes to the extreme. When it first opened ten years ago, the restaurant had nine employees; now it has 30. The past ten years have not been peaceful. The restaurant has experienced the euro crisis and the new crown epidemic, which is a considerable blow to the restaurant that is just starting up. Fortunately, the restaurant has successfully overcome a series of difficulties relying on scientific business philosophy. Today, however, inflation is squeezing the living space of restaurants day after day and month after month. “I have never encountered such a difficult situation.” Martin, who is optimistic by nature, said helplessly.
  Martin has been a hard-working chef for 30 years, and he likes to walk around the restaurant and observe how the guests react to the dishes. Martin brought a pile of documents, all business reports and purchase invoices. The restaurant’s electricity bill in the first half of 2021 is 21,927 euros, while the electricity bill in the first half of 2022 soars to 35,720 euros, an increase of 62%; The increase reached 107%. “Our operating costs were increasing and there was no way to cut them,” he explained.
  But for Martin, it wasn’t the electricity and gas bills that surprised, angered or depressed the most. “In May last year, a kilogram of red sea bream was still 22 euros, and now it has risen to 38 euros; at that time, it was sold for 17 euros a kilogram, and now it has risen to 39.9 euros.” The price of fish has soared, and other raw materials have also increased. It hasn’t been spared — whether it’s sirloin or eggs, prices are rising, and that’s the real challenge La Casa faces.
  Martin, for example, never buys fish from markets in Madrid. The Spanish coastal suppliers he chooses are either fishermen’s partners, or purchase directly from the fish market in the port, so as to ensure the high quality of raw materials for the restaurant. But as prices continued to climb, Martin was caught in a dilemma: Either drastically increase the price of dishes, or give up purchasing top-quality raw materials, both of which are bad options. He said: “As soon as the epidemic situation improved, many regular customers came to dine to support our business. Their arrival saved us, so I don’t want to increase the price. It will disappoint their good intentions. I don’t want that. Besides, they can bear it.” How long are the high-priced dishes? For them, the price of everything has increased, such as electricity bills, supermarket purchases, gas costs, children’s school fees… I have gradually increased the prices of some dishes, but so far the price has not risen. Not much.” Someone suggested that Martin replace other types of raw materials, that is, save money from the procurement process. “They told me to use sardines or farmed fish instead of three-handed redfish or red snapper. But who would pay 60 euros for these things? And I don’t want to do that, it’s not in line with La Casa’s business.” idea,” he said.
  Martin also runs an Italian-style restaurant called “Focaccia”, which he transformed into a fast-food restaurant that only sells pizza a few months ago, with an average price of about 28 euros. The newly changed store name is also very catchy: Juewei Pizza. The strategy worked, but he didn’t want to turn La Casa into a fast-food joint, too. “I think it’s normal for prices to rise, but not so fast and so fast. If this continues, all food will become as expensive as caviar and langoustine, which is ridiculous.” Some trends from April: Fewer meals are being served at business meetings, more people are ordering half-portions, and fewer people are coming to eat at lunchtime. “It’s not so much an economic depression as it is a social change, and people have to adapt to it,” Martin said worriedly.
  Martin often communicates with colleagues in the catering industry. Everyone is under the heavy pressure of inflation. No matter what type of restaurant they operate, they all face the same problem: what to do to make the restaurant survive. Martin tried to hold on for a few more months. He hesitated and said: “We are still able to break even, neither making money nor losing money. Our income can still cover everyone’s salary, including my own. But in the future, I don’t know what will happen. How about it. I have to make a decision, either increase the price, or remove some dishes and replace them with others. I don’t know if there is any other way. I hope to save the restaurant, thinking that we have to pay for everything we have worked so hard for Dongliu, I am very unwilling, but what should I do…”