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N.B. takeout owner takes to social media to announce rise in menu prices

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Anyone who has been to Shediac, N.B., has probably noticed the giant chicken at Lenny's.

Customers of the popular takeout will notice slightly higher prices starting next week.

Jamie Dionne, owner of Lenny's in Shediac, N.B., is pictured. (Derek Haggett/CTV Atlantic)

Owner Jamie Dionne posted a message on Facebook saying prices will increase due to inflation.

“There's just a lot of families out there that don't have a lot of money and they budget. So when they come into the restaurant, the reason why I made the post, was to let customers know that when they come into the building it's going to cost them more money. That way, it’s not a surprise when they come in,” said Dionne.

The business decision is a result of the rising cost of food, power, propane, wages and new taxes.

Dionne said reaction to the post has been mostly positive.

“Everybody's been, honestly, standing behind us. We have a few people, but I can't make everybody happy. We just do what we can to keep our doors open as a business,” said Dionne.

The giant chicken at Lenny's in Shediac, N.B. (Derek Haggett/CTV Atlantic)

Jordi Morgan, vice-president Atlantic, Restaurants Canada, is sympathetic.

“I think the example of the guy in Shediac who's dealing with some of these increased costs and has to increase menu prices, it's very hard for them. Increasing menu prices is something that a restaurateur doesn't want to do,” said Morgan.

Business is good at Cheers Beverage Room in Moncton, but that doesn't mean they aren't feeling the pinch of inflation and taxes, too.

Jennifer Somers, co-owner of Cheers Beverage Room in Moncton, N.B. (Derek Haggett/CTV Atlantic)

Co-owner Jennifer Somers said the price of some supplies are still sky-high even after COVID-19.

“One example that I tell people all the time is fryer oil. Pre-pandemic, fryer oil was twenty five bucks. Now, it's $56. So costs are still high and everyday we're shopping around to try and find the best product and price that we can,” said Somers.

Morgan said there’s only so much a business can absorb over a short period of time.

“We've seen some massive increases in labour costs through minimum wage. We've seen costs go up for energy, obviously, and it just comes to a breaking point. People have to make some decisions about either staying in business or they're going to have to change their business model a little.”

Morgan said Restaurants Canada has been talking to Ottawa and the provincial governments about the problems of inflation, labour costs and taxes.

“Inflation really is a big one, so we look at creative ways to see if the government can help. Either through direct program spending or if they can do it through not adding additional costs,” said Morgan.

Customers at Cheers said they haven’t been cutting back on dining out due to the cost of inflation, but that could change.

“We’ll see,” said Lawren Campbell. “It’s eventually going to catch up to the wallet, to the finances, and we know it’s getting a little more expensive so it does change the grocery order so eventually we have to make a decision about, do we go out as much, or do we have more in the pantry?”

Aaron Kinden eats out about once a week and inflation doesn’t really deter him from doing so.

“Not too, too much, I would say,” said Kinden. “It’s only a couple of bucks, really.”

In the Facebook post, Dionne said the portions, quality and customer service at Lenny’s will not change despite the menu increases and he has no regrets about being upfront with customers about the changes.

“I'm definitely happy, because as a father, I have a family myself, I would much rather know before I walk into an establishment how much it's going to cost me,” said Dionne. 

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

Correction

A previous version of this article said the federal alcohol escalator tax increased by almost five per cent on beer, wine and spirits on April 1. It was capped at two per cent for an additional two years on March 9.

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