DES MOINES, Iowa – Chuck’s Restaurant has spent decades serving the community. Every Thanksgiving, Chuck’s serves a massive feast free of charge to anyone in need during the holidays. Now, Chuck’s is working to meet its own needs.

The pandemic took its toll, and now inflation is pushing expenses even higher. It’s causing restaurants to make changes in order to cope with the increasing costs, and customers are noticing.

“We used to eat out for $20 and now it’s $28 for two people,” Roger Shoemaker, of Des Moines, said.

Roger and Sharon Shoemaker have noticed the increase in prices whether they’re eating at a restaurant or at home.

“Well I know when I go to the grocery store I notice a huge jump at the grocery store so I’m sure their food prices have gone up just as bad,” Sharon said.

Emily Jones owns Chuck’s Restaurant. She said before COVID, a 50-pound bag of onion rings put her back $16. Now, a bag costs $44. It’s why she bumped up menu items by a dollar.

“Every time an onion ring goes out I’m like, ‘how much is that costing me?’ Compared to when it used to be $16 you had a pretty good margin, but now it’s just like alright as long as money keeps going into the bank account and it’s not going lower,” Jones said. “It’s kinda just what you expect.”

After being closed due to the pandemic and then renovations, Jones said this is the first time they’ve had to raise prices on their menu since August. The question now is if or when they’ll have to do so again.

“I don’t know if the prices are ever going to go down,” Jones said. “I think we’re going to just have to live with it at this point.”

Jones explains she not only has to pay for the food, but the work involved to get it to the restaurant.

“Our distributors have never had to pass the freight costs on to us and now we’re getting extra delivery charges on any delivery we get,” Jones said. “So it’s being kinda passed down to small businesses.”

She fears prices may have to go up again in the next six months. Even so, loyal patrons say they’ll keep coming back.

“You gotta go out and eat once in a while,” Shoemaker said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices are up nearly 9% from this time last year.