Baton Rouge restaurant suppliers see product shortages continue ahead of holidays

Like many other industries right now, local restaurant suppliers are reeling from equipment shortages and increased prices. And, with the holiday season approaching, some see the problems getting worse before they get better.

Most of the shortages and shipping delays are for larger items, says Brady Gier, head of equipment sales at Ducote’s Restaurant and Bar Equipment, including friers and daiquiri machines.

Things have changed drastically since the beginning of the year, Gier says. Around March, customers waited around two weeks for items. Now, the wait has bumped up to six or seven months.

Buckelew’s Chef’s First Restaurant and Supply is seeing the same issue, says sales manager Joshua Barrett. Items that would usually take one to three weeks can now take 10 to 12. The primary bottleneck is that restaurant equipment is being held up at manufacturers, where parts shortages have jammed production, Barrett says, adding that it has forced him to find alternate solutions for customers.

Goods shipped from China are stalled at Western U.S. ports, but even American equipment is taking longer than usual, Gier says. On top of those delays, the price of metal has jumped in recent months.

“It’s hard to explain to a customer when they put out thousands of dollars that they may have to wait seven months for the piece of equipment,” Gier says. He is concerned the holiday season will be even worse.

The impact of equipment shortages could trickle down to restaurant customers, Barrett says, especially when it comes to booking caterers, which do more business during the holidays but have struggled to get supplies they need.

It will all get worse before it gets better, Gier says. Ducote’s has already had to raise prices, and he sees more increases on the horizon. Companies are putting surcharges on items, he says, and Ducote’s is forced to pass it on.

However, the success of local restaurants over the last year and a half gives Gier hope for the industry.

“I’ve continued to see restaurants struggling,” he says, “but I deal with restaurant owners all day every day, and, at least here in Louisiana, they’re having record years.”

This story originally appeared in an Oct. 25 edition of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.

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