High prices and supply shortages hit local seafood restaurants hard as Lent begins

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – Can you imagine… Are some of your favorite restaurants removing oyster po’boy from their menus, due to high costs?

This is already happening and being considered in some places in southern Louisiana.

For oyster shucker Doug, Thursday, March 1, was business as usual at Acme Oyster House in Baton Rouge. As he prepares his sizzling grilled oysters, topped with herb butter and a special blend of cheeses.

Lent is always busy for us, company-wide,” said Paul Rotner, CEO of Acme Oyster House.

But bringing those fresh oysters to your table is costing restaurants and businesses more every day.

“I just got a notification this morning that our in-shell product for our oysters is going to go up about $5-7 per bag, which will put us in the $50 per bag range, which is crazy to me” , Rotner said.

Rotner says 50% of everything they sell is oysters. But with prices rising, the restaurant’s slogan “Life is more fun with seafood” could take a hit.

“For now, we are keeping oysters on the menu. For an oyster po’boy, we’re going to try to keep it under $25 for as long as possible. But it’s likely to eventually go off the menu, or we’ll have to raise the price even further,” Rotner said.

“Crawfish season is in full swing right now,” said Von Raybon, owner of Pit N Peel.

At Pit N Peel, crawfish sell for $4.99 a pound, and Raybon thinks that’s the best price in town.

“And as Easter kicks in, prices start to stabilize,” Raybon said.

He says everything that comes with preparing crawfish has an impact on prices, like seasonings and even propane.

“But all the additives that we need to make sure the crayfish are available, we’ve seen some influx into that area,” Raybon said.

He urges customers to be patient if they can.

“Just know that we all do our best to make these products available so our customers can be satisfied,” Raybon said.

But back at Acme, Rotner says the menu remains the same for now, and he hopes the prices will drop soon.

“It becomes difficult for everyone. Labor costs are going up and goods costs are going up, there’s going to be a lot of little guys who just can’t handle it,” he said.

Rotner says he didn’t even see those high prices for oysters after the BP oil spill. And that also includes shrimp and crab.

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