Higher Restaurant Prices Possible Due to Heat Wave

Milk prices projected to go up 10 to 15 cents in the near future

With the United States Department of Agriculture projecting a three to five percent increase in food prices, some restaurant owners are left in a dilemma: raise prices for consumers or eat the cost themselves.

"I'm not going to charge one of our guests $14 for one of our Greek Salads," said Jimmy Bannos, Jr., owner of the Purple Pig Restaurant. "It's just not gonna happen."

While some restaurant owners feel they cannot raise prices, others say they will have to pass their increased costs along to consumers, especially for key ingredients, like cheese for pizza.

"We cannot use less cheese," said Chi-Town Pizza manager Laura Belchez. "Probably, we're going to put the price up."

The price of cheese is expected to go up 60 cents per pound, since cows produce less milk in hot weather.

A government report released Wednesday predicts a 10 to 15 cent increase per gallon of milk in the near term, with an increase of up to a quarter per gallon by the time winter hits.

Farmers are also seeing the effects in their corn crops.

"The cobs are really small, just because the lack of the rain," said farmer Nick Nichols. "Some of the peppers are one-third the size they should be."

Prices for corn and soybeans are expected to see the biggest increases.

"There's a lot more effort, and a lot less quantity that we're seeing coming out of the field," he said.

No matter where consumers eat, the smaller crop yields are already hitting some square in the pocketbook.

"Feeding a family, I have two kids," said Gretta Suss. "We go through probably two gallons of milk a week. Our grocery bill has been noticeably more expensive."

The hot weather also led the United States Department of Agriculture to declare 76 more counties drought disaster areas Wednesday, including Crawford and Pike counties in Illinois.

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