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Rising costs, staff shortages continue to concern Dayton restaurants

A rectangular black chalkboard sign with a wooden frame hangs on a glass window. The word "closed" is written in white chalk on the sign.

Local restaurant owners have cited staffing shortages and inflation among their top concerns for this year as the businesses continue to grapple with the issues that affected them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Miami Valley Restaurant Association doesn’t have exact numbers on how many local restaurants closed in 2023. But the Dayton Daily News reported over 30 shut down, from longtime restaurants to bakeries and chains.

"We've probably had a few more restaurants close, maybe a little bit more than normal," Amy Zahora from the restaurant association.

Third Perk Coffeehouse & Wine Bar in downtown Dayton and Crazy King Burrito in Fairborn were among the closures.

New restaurants also opened last year. But Zahora said staffing and the high cost of products remains a challenge.

“And it keeps going up. Like paper products, napkins, to-go boxes for those that do to-go, the cost of meat, bread, eggs ... Even with Restaurant Week, some of the restaurants had to kind of increase their prices or it's not worth them doing it,” Zahora said.

As new restaurants open this year in Miami Valley, owners hope inflation won't make business unsustainable.

“We need prices to come back down, interest rates to come back down and get everything back to the way it was,” Zahora said.

The group has a couple of events lined up this year to support restaurants, including Battle of the Bartenders in February, Cheese Fest in May and Pickle Fest this summer.

Ngozi Cole is the Business and Economics Reporter for WYSO. She graduated with honors from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York and is a 2022 Pulitzer Center Post-Graduate Reporting Fellow. Ngozi is from Freetown, Sierra Leone.
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