Restaurant owners say gas prices slow their business - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Restaurant owners say gas prices slow their business

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April 28, 2008

Albany -- Some Albany restaurant owners say they can tell times are tough for most of us, because people aren't eating out as often. Especially at lunchtime.  Restaurant managers say more South Georgians are brown bagging it. And they think record high gas prices are to blame.

The lunch hour crowd lines up at The Cookie Shoppe, but owner Mona Quaqish says it's the toughest time in her 22 years of running the restaurant. Quaqish said "I'm feeling the pinch. I'm feeling the pinch. It's the gas."

Just across the river, the dinner time business is slow at Maryland Fried Chicken. Manager John Brown said "it's a tough time for everyone."

Lots of restaurants report they are also being pinched by high gas prices. Some former regular customers are now bringing their lunch from home because their money is going into their gas tank. Quaqish said "medium size car it's taking $60 to fill up with gas, where it used to take $40. That goes into their budget, and it's hurting them to go out to lunch. So they are brown bagging it."

At the same time, restaurant managers say the cost of groceries is also soaring, forcing them to consider raising prices. Brown said "we haven't gone up here lately, but we got to go up. Because everything else done gone up."

 So as gas prices continue to soar, the restaurants are feeling a double hit.  Their costs go up too, and less customers. Quaqish said "you're grateful when they walk in the door and have lunch with you."

 Brown says he is glad to see the economic stimulus checks coming out this week, and thinks people might treat themselves for a meal. Brown said "I think the stimulus package gonna help us. Even though Walmart and places like that get most of it, you gotta eat before you go out there."

South Georgia restaurants, like everyone else, feeling the pain at the pump. Some food distributors are charging a $7.50 fuel surcharge to restaurants for deliveries to cover their fuel costs.

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