HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Restaurants are heading into their busy season after a few roller coaster years. They have dealt with shutdowns, staffing issues and now inflation. Three years after the pandemic, some of those issues remain.
At Arooga’s in downtown Harrisburg, a manager said the restaurant and bar have bounced back since the pandemic, and it is counting on this summer season to keep that going. When the weather gets warm, restaurants like Arooga’s say business comes back to life.
“Us downtown, we’re 75 percent warm weather and 25 percent cold weather,” Arooga’s manager Jason Reimer said.
At the downtown location, Reimer said the summer boom is already in full swing.
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“The last couple weeks have just been absolutely awesome at downtown Harrisburg,” he said. “We have tons of people who like to come sit on the patio, and these are also all firepits.”
Reimer said Arooga’s is ready to meet that demand. That is because Reimer said staffing shortages, which have plagued so many restaurants and bars, seem to be a thing of the past.
“You have lots of really qualified, friendly and happy people here at work, and guest service and those types of things have returned to pre-pandemic levels,” he said.
There are some lingering challenges, especially in the supply chain.
“One week, it’ll be cups, another week it’ll be glassware, another week it’ll be ground beef,” Reimer said.
In addition, inflation is still on everybody’s mind.
“There’s a constant, gradual, increase in the prices we’re paying for goods, but we’re doing our best to keep prices stable for our guests,” Reimer said.
Reimer said he knows customers are also dealing with rising prices, so Arooga’s is getting creative.
“So we’ve actually been doing a lot of, like I said, nice drink specials and food specials to try and make it more affordable to have a great night out,” he said.
Restaurants rely on that summer business, so reamer is encouraging people to come out and take advantage of what the city — and its restaurants — have to offer.
“Downtown is an amazing place to be, both for food, drinks, entertainment. I mean, for the local area, without having to go out of town, it can’t be beat,” he said.
abc27 also reached out to Adam Sturges, who owns McGrath’s Pub and Sturges Speakeasy. For him, the effects of the pandemic are still taking more of a financial toll. He said raising wages to hire more people, plus the impact of inflation have forced him to raise prices, but it is also a balancing act — he does not want to push away customers.