RI restaurants struggling with staffing shortages, skyrocketing product prices

Business News

JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ While the customers at Brewed Awakenings are more than content, owner David Levesque tells 12 News it’s been tough to keep it that way.

Levesque said on top of staffing shortages, the cost of food and products has skyrocketed over the past year.

“Across the board, we’ve got prices going up,” he said. “Our paper products alone, there’s been anywhere from a 6-to-10% rise in those, bacon went up over 31%, baked goods [have increased] anywhere from 8-to-10%.”

Levesque said it’s an issue that’s impacting the entire restaurant industry.

When asked why he believes the prices are so high, Levesque said it’s likely due to the shortage of workers.

“Thirty full-time people? We would take them,” he said. “We could take 60 part-time people immediately. That’s at bare minimum.”

On Thursday, Gov. Dan McKee said beginning May 23, Rhode Islanders on unemployment will once again have to prove they’re looking for a job in order to collect. The requirement has been waived throughout the pandemic.

McKee credited his decision with the indication that the R.I. General Assembly will pass legislation that would allow people to go back to work without losing their unemployment benefits.

It’s a proposal Levesque is highly critical of.

“This bill is not going to get you back to work, because you can’t work over a certain amount of hours or you lose the benefits,” he said.

Levesque testified before lawmakers last week in support of legislation that would pay workers $300 for 13 weeks to come off of unemployment, but that proposal hasn’t gained much traction.

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