Students ease staffing woes, but supply shortages carry on

Restaurants are still grappling with supply shortages that add limitations and higher prices to other pandemic struggles.

Posted: Oct 11, 2021 3:41 PM
Updated: Oct 11, 2021 7:21 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Supply chain issues continue to put a wrench in business operations here and across the country, but some local businesses are putting their staffing troubles behind them.

Students are flooding onto campuses and into open job positions, which means some things are getting back to normal, but not everything. Restaurants are still grappling with supply shortages that add limitations and higher prices to other pandemic struggles.

MORE: Eugene residents hopeful of local economy picking up

Toxic Wings owner Brandon Ingram told KEZI 9 News he has almost too many employees now, especially at the restaurant next to the University of Oregon on 13th Avenue. But he’s paying more for his chicken wings than he’s charging, he said.

"When chicken thighs were $50 a case, now I think it's $120 a case, you know, we still buy it. We haven't raised our prices in a year. We're hoping this will go down before we have to do that, but yeah. We're just playing long ball here," said Ingram.

He also told KEZI 9 News staffing continues to be an issue right now at some of his other locations, and he said his restaurant deals with this by stopping orders through apps like DoorDash.

What's causing the supply shortages and high prices? According to an article by the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, Oregon isn’t directly affected by supply chain issues, but the ripple effects can hit close to home. Slowdowns at ports in Southern California are causing businesses here in western Oregon to see high transportation costs. Fewer people are working the ports, and that drives up the costs of getting supply off the ships waiting there. 

RELATED: How bad are supply chains? Costco is renting ships

However, some local restaurants aren't having any problems with getting supplies. 

Off the Waffle general manager Conor Holt said his business is thriving. He said it's all because of the way they locally source their products. 

"Organic is definitely a lot smaller of a business than big supply chains and stuff like that with huge processing plants and stuff like that. Other than that all of our suppliers are here in Eugene mostly, so we don't have to travel too far to get our product, so it is really simple to be like, 'Hey, we're running low,' and they're usually quite on top of it," said Holt. 

He said there are have been a few times when suppliers have run out of a product, but he said it happens rarely. 

KEZI 9 News also spoke to customers of restaurants about how these supply shortages have affected them when they go to their favorite place to eat. Maddie Crea, a student at the University of Oregon, said she isn't worried and has learned to deal with hearing her favorite menu item isn't available. 

"For me at least it's not a huge deal. It's kind of -- we've been hearing it since the beginning -- and so you just kind of deal with it," said Crea. 

MORE: The workers who keep global supply chains moving are warning of a 'system collapse'

We also spoke with another UO student, Karly Rode. She said she also tries to be as understanding as she can. 

"It's not really the restaurants' fault that it's happening, so you can't really get mad at them for anything," said Rode. 

Ingram said he has some advice for customers who might get impatient.

"It's really not their fault. They're giving it their best, so just don't beat up on them too bad. That would be my hope, my advice," said Ingram. 

Experts said shortages will get better as the COVID-19 pandemic fizzles out and more people go back to work in places like shipyards and shipping companies. But they also said it could take until next year to get things moving smoothly once again. 

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