Last year was a learning experience for many food operators. For CaSandra Arthur, the lesson was “if you see something you need, you buy it.”
“You don’t know if it will be there next time you need it,” says the co-owner of King Arthur’s Food Trolley.
Indeed, restaurants and food truck operators are facing shortages of ingredients and other supplies– from pickles to chicken wings, condiments and to-go boxes.
The Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken on Dupont Road recently had a sign in the drive-thru announcing it was out of Southern Fried Pickles “due to a national shortage.”
Chick-fil-A announced last week that it was dealing with a “shortage of select items,” including its sauces. Workers are now giving customers only one dipping sauce per item.
For Tom Parisi, director of operations for Casa restaurants, the supply chain is a daily challenge. The local restaurant group has had trouble sourcing fresh produce, chicken breasts and imported Italian pastas.
“The item we have struggled with mostly is fresh crab claw meat,” he says. “We are in contact daily with US Foods, GFS (Gordon Food Service), Sofo Foods, Dixon Seafood and even Kroger and Fresh Market.”
Crab is a key ingredient in some of Casa’s most popular dishes.
Arthur says her food trolley is reaching out to as many purveyors and working every avenue to cope with the shortages.
Matthew Nolot, the chef and operator behind Tolon, finds himself in a better position than other restaurants. With a farm-to-fork model, most of the sauces and condiments are made in-house.
He also works with local farmers, who raise chickens and cattle specifically for the 614 S. Harrison St. restaurant. Hoffman Certified Organics provides poultry, and Wood Farms sells beef.
“It’s crazy out there,” Nolot says. “I’ve been really lucky.”
However, he has not been immune to supply shortages. Items such as disposable gloves and carryout bags made from recycled paper have either been hard to find or been increasingly expensive – or both.
Restaurant sales have grown in the past couple months, Nolot says. Year-to-year sales at Tolon are up over what they were pre-pandemic.
The increased demand is stressing the already stressed supply chain, he says.
According to the trade publication Restaurant Business, “the rapid increase in customer demand for restaurants generally this year, and especially since March, coupled with labor challenges has led to supply chain challenges of all sorts, including ketchup packets and pickle buckets.”
The 05 gets a Scoop
As a resident of the Lakeside area, Molly Jordan was disappointed to learn that the owners of Jukebox Ice Cream Parlor were moving and the shop would close.
“We wanted to keep a dessert option in the 46805 neighborhood and not see a business close,” she says.
And so, in February, the idea of Oh Five Scoop Shop was born. Opening this month, the ice cream and gelato shop will offer hand-dipped ice cream and gelato, sundaes, milkshakes, malts and slushies. Grab-and-go pints and quarts will also be available along with packaged sauces.
The Oh Five, 1937 E. State Blvd., will stock ice cream flavors, with most flavors sourced from Mooville Creamery in Michigan. Rotating flavors will include classics, such as butter pecan, mint chip, black cherry and strawberry cheesecake.
Flavors of gelato, sourced from Palazzolo’s in Michigan, will rotate.
“Our family was lucky enough to travel to Italy, and there was a gelato shop on every corner and was an everyday treat!” Jordan says, adding that sorbetto and vegan varieties will also be available. “Gelato is the original ice cream from Italy and has an intense taste, and we felt others would enjoy it.”
The sundae menu will include PB Temptation, made with peanut butter and chocolate sauces and mini chocolates; and Mocha Espresso, featuring mocha sauce and dark chocolate espresso beans. There will also be favorites, such as banana splits and turtle…