TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The inflation rate is cooling, but prices are still going up – just more slowly.
The restaurant industry is still one of the hardest hit and there’s an ingredient that has chefs and bakers worried even more.
Several restaurants in downtown Tampa are taking a creative approach to keep the cost down for customers.
“We do discounts,” said Mike Sarmat, manager at Eddie & Sam’s NY Pizza. “I offer online ordering discounts because online ordering saves us on the labor part, so we don’t need to answer the phone.”
Sarmat is familiar with the squeeze of soaring inflation as food prices continue to climb. He’s staffing fewer positions to help make up the cost.
“Every shift we’ve had between 10 and 14 employees, now we have 8 to 10,” said Sarmat.
However, the conversation about inflation could be changing. The latest Consumer Price Index released this week is offering a glimmer of hope. Annual inflation cooled last month to its lowest level over the last two years, but there are still many setbacks.
Food prices are outpacing overall inflation, jumping more than 7 percent over the past year.
The price of cereal and baked goods is up about 12 percent, but it’s the last ingredient on the list that has pizza shops and bakeries feeling the heat. The cost of flour climbed 18 percent compared to last year.
“It’s not taking too much of a toll on us yet, but we’re trying to ease through it so it doesn’t make a huge impact,” said Summer Bailey, executive pastry chef at Boulon Brasserie and Bakery.
Boulon says flour is a key ingredient in her top-selling desserts.
“Even vanilla beans and now they’re saying flour and eggs and the cream,” Bailey said. “That’s pastry. My crème brulee in and of itself is yolks and heavy cream and vanilla bean.”
The Boulon Bakery recently opened and business has been better than expected. However, Bailey is still finding creative ways to keep the cost to her customers at a minimum.
“It has affected us a bit,” Bailey said. “We’re trying to run a few specials to help with that. We don’t want to raise our prices. We don’t want our customers to have to pay more.”