JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Everything you buy is more expensive this year than it was a year ago.
In fact, the rate of inflation is the highest it's been in the United States in more than 40 years. Prices for rice and pasta have risen by nearly 10 percent. Milk prices have increased by more than 13 percent, and beef prices have gone up by more than 16 percent.
But the rising cost of food isn't the only reason why many restaurants have raised their prices. The cost of other items used to make and serve the food is really driving rising costs.
Before service begins at Lemon Street Brewing Company in Jacksonville, it's time to prep for El Cubano Jax Chef Esteban Azofeifa. He's making a meal that simply costs more in every way than it did a year ago.
"In the span of the last six months things have shot up quite drastically," says Azofeifa, "I started the business during the pandemic, a lot of people know things were already starting to go up and down and fluctuate, things were hard to find. Now things aren't that hard to find, they're there, but the price point is a lot different."
Azofeifa says that costs go beyond food, which has seen prices rise, but rather the price of the items used to serve the food has affected prices.
"Before I could get a sleeve of these for $10 and now they're $18," Azofeifa says as he holds to-go serving containers for his food, "disposable silverware like this, a fork, a spoon, a knife, a napkin, back in the day a case like this would be $15-$20, now it's close to $30."
Aside from shopping for his business, Azofeifa also does grocery shopping for his own family and feels the pinch of high prices.
"What I try and do is save in other ways," says Azofeifa. "I take advantage of the buy-one get-ones, I take advantage of any type of meat that's on sale."
Azofeifa says a little foresight can also save a lot of money.
"By all means, if you see something on sale, and you can freeze it, hold it and save it for another day because it will add up," says Azofeifa.
Even though he can save a little bit of money in some areas, sometimes rising costs are simply unavoidable.
"Napkins, extra plates, condiments, whether it's mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, pickles, hot sauce, things that you get for people to add on or don't charge for have shot up," says Azofeifa. "So this is a big reason why menu prices and the cost for meals have gone up."
Azofeifa says that while he's a business owner, he's also a customer of other establishments, so he completely understands the frustration of dealing with rising prices.