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Employee shortage, chicken wing prices: Jeff Good talks challenges facing restaurants

Jeff Good Mississippi
Photo courtesy of Jeff Good

Over the last week or so, Mississippi restaurateur Jeff Good has spoken to outlets such as The Washington Post and Fox News about the astronomical price of chicken wings.

Good, the co-founder of three successful Jackson restaurants, says that at its peak in 2021, a 40-pound box of chicken wings was going for $175. That number has gone down slightly but not by much as a 40-pound box currently goes for as much as $150, compared to $85 in November 2020.

The soaring prices from suppliers have forced Good and other restaurant owners to go up with their own wing prices.

“I call it the great spring chicken wings tour,” Good said during a Thursday appearance on The Gallo Show regarding the number of publications he’s done interviews with as of recent. “Restaurants price our menu based on a formula. We say ‘what is all of the cost input to put this on the plate for you to eat?’ and we mark it up three times… But you can’t charge $34, $35, $36 for a plate of wings. Our wings got up to a maximum of $27.”

Even though $27 for a plate of 15 wings was virtually unheard of two years ago, Good added that customers have been understanding because they too are aware of the rising inflation rates.

“The funny thing is customers, while initially when this first started were a little shocked, [understood] because they go to the grocery store, because they go to the gas pump, because they see the narrative on the news, because they understand. Everyone understands the game,” Good said.

While inflation rates are at a 41-year high, the prices aren’t the only challenges restaurants are facing. According to Good, finding employees is still an issue due to a combination of federal relief as well as the ever-changing lifestyle created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some of the negative narrative that some business people have that people wanted to stay at home…that was true during the time that the stimulus was being offered. Just like the PPP provided businesses like mine to stay alive, the stimulus provided the lifeline for a family to stay alive,” Good explained. “As we got out of stimulus and it was safer for people to come back to work, people that didn’t come back to work still had problems with childcare. They still had problems with people in their family or themselves that were compromised and were worried about getting sick. They were fearful, and then of course, there’s just a lot of folks that changed what they wanted to do, especially in our industry.”

Nevertheless, even with all of the challenges restaurants are facing, Good remains not only optimistic but is grateful for the people that continue to support the foodservice industry.

“Those of us in the restaurant business, I would just say this on behalf of all of us. Thank you.”

The full interview with Good can be watched below.

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