LUBBOCK, Texas – It was this week last year, around 9,000 restaurants across Texas had permanently closed. Now, while things seem to be back to normal, restaurants are still struggling.

After hurdling the obstacles of staffing and supply shortages, restaurants are now facing inflation and a tougher economy. Restaurants have said that some of that has gotten better for them, but they’re still nowhere near where they were pre-COVID.

Chris Berry was the President of the Lubbock Restaurant Association and has been with River Smith’s here in Lubbock. He said, “I think it’s more so economy related now than pandemic recovery related. But again, it’s all kind of back to what we’re still recovering from.”

He explained around 700,000 jobs were lost almost overnight during the pandemic and into the recovery. He added the average cost of everything is up 250%.

Restaurants had to adjust their operations during COVID to meet the restrictions set in place. Berry said that was somewhat a silver lining, because they were then able to see what worked and what didn’t, and what they should be doing more often.

William Harper with Stella’s Restaurant and Stacked has been involved in the industry for fifteen years. He said they’re still facing tough challenges every day, but they will continue to do whatever it takes to get their customers the food they love.

“You just got to keep pushing and grinding every day, especially when you own your own restaurant,” he said.

Thankfully, Lubbock’s push to eat local helped many businesses stay afloat.

“They’re like family to us. You know, if we don’t have them, we have nothing,” Berry said.

Take this as a reminder… if a situation like COVID ever happened again, it is so important to eat and shop local.