Restaurants jack up prices amid soaring costs and staff shortages
Tim Rice • January 22, 2022 4:59 am
Inflation is driving up restaurant prices in Washington, D.C., as President Joe Biden enters his second year in office.
Washington’s most popular restaurants raised the prices of their most popular dishes by as much as 32 percent since 2020, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis. A 14-ounce New York strip at The Palm, where Terry McAuliffe held his retirement party, cost $54 in September 2020. It now goes for $61.50. The signature duck at Falls Church’s Peking Gourmet Inn, a favorite of both Presidents Bush, cost just $50 in March 2020. Today, it goes for $66—a 32 percent increase.
Restaurants across the country have jacked up prices in recent months amid soaring inflation and staff shortages. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the cost of eating out rose 5.8 percent from 2020 to 2021, the highest increase since 1982. According to restaurant analysts, “annual menu inflation” generally hovers around 2.5 percent.
The Bushes aren’t the only presidents whose favorite menu items have gotten more expensive under Biden. Barack and Michelle Obama were known for their frequent date night visits to Rasika, the district’s trendiest Indian joint. The restaurant’s Palak Chaat jumped from $10 to $12, a 20 percent increase that might be due to a recent spinach shortage.
In August 2020, the costoletta di vitello at Filomena in Georgetown went for $49.95. Today, the 20-ounce veal chop at Bill Clinton’s favorite D.C. eatery will set you back $56.99. (Readers may recall the restaurant serving Clinton and the late German chancellor Helmut Kohl heaping bowls of pasta until they said stop. They didn’t.) Georgia Brown’s, the downtown Southern hotspot frequented by Clinton staffers in the ’90s, has seen its trademark buttermilk fried chicken jump from $24 to $27 since 2020.
It’s not just high-end restaurants that have had to raise their prices. We The Pizza, a Beltway go-to to grab a slice, has raised the price of each of its items since December 2020. A burrito at District Taco, which sold for just over $8 in March 2020, goes for nearly $10 as of this writing.
The sticker shock comes as D.C. residents struggle to find groceries amid worsening supply chain crises. Unfortunately, anyone looking to take the edge off with a stiff drink could find themselves similarly strapped for cash. Sources tell the Free Beacon that the price of a squeeze bottle of liquor at Adams Morgan’s notorious Dan’s Cafe rose from $25 in March 2020 to $30 in March 2021. The cheapest happy hour beer at the newly reopened Post Pub, which once offered daily $3.95 beer specials, goes for $5. Democracy dies in dark amber.
Notably, one popular D.C. restaurant seems to have escaped the perils of inflation. Le Diplomate, the French bistro frequented by Joe and Dr. Jill Biden has managed to keep prices stable for the past few years. The restaurant’s Burger Américain—Biden’s preferred dish—has sold for $20 since at least June 2020.
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