RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – Stepping into the Hayes Barton Cafe and Dessertery is like stepping into an actual episode of “Cheers.”
Pictures of longtime customers and their families line the walls.
Co-owner Frank Ballard said they owe everything to them and their loyal employees.
“We have a joke here and a story there,” Ballard said. “After 25 years, they’re not even customers anymore, they’re family and we couldn’t do without them,” he said.
Hayes Barton Cafe and Dessertery has overcome hurdle after hurdle over the past few years.
During the pandemic, they haven’t been able to move to outdoor seating like other businesses because the sidewalk outside is too narrow. It meant they only pulled to the curb for pickup.
“The goal was to survive COVID. Our sales were down about 25 percent during COVID,” said Frank Ballard.
Frank Ballard said the restaurant could keep its employees.
Now they are faced with inflation rates like never before.
“It’s like body punches. You can only do so much as a small body punching business, and we thought let’s just give it a try and see how it goes,” he said.
Co-owner Marget Ballard said the past few years have been the toughest yet.
“Even more than when the restaurant opened,” said Marget Ballard. She said they see utility costs rising 9 to 10 percent across the board.
“We absorbed it for quite a while and we just realized we couldn’t handle it anymore and get on with what we were doing,” said Marget Ballard.
That’s why they add a 3 percent fee to every check.
“To cover the full costs, that would be 10 percent, but that would be far too drastic for me. Three percent covers the basics,” said Marget Ballard.
Staying afloat as a small business is difficult when the price of everything keeps rising.
“Chains get things in bulk, get discounted prices, and we pay week to week. It’s tough,” Frank Ballard said.
Hayes Barton Cafe has attempted to make adjustments to the menu where they can. They switched from crab cakes to roasted salmon cakes as the price of crab rose.
They considered increasing the cost of all of their menu items, but due to supply chain issues, pricing and availability are unpredictable.
That would result in the company potentially reprinting menus every week, costing them even more in the long run.
The Ballards said that 3 percent fee is the biggest thing that can help them right now.
“As soon as prices stabilize, we’ll get rid of it. We definitely will,” said Frank Ballard.
https://www.cbs17.com/news/restaurant-in-raleighs-five-points-forced-to-add-inflation-fee-on-checks/ The restaurant at Raleigh’s Five Points must charge an inflation fee on checks