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Inflation impacting small businesses trying to avoid passing cost to consumer

'I have not taken a vacation in 22 years,' Hot Pie Pizza owner says
Posted at 5:19 PM, Sep 06, 2022

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Inflation has been affecting people all over Florida and that includes small business that are paying more for their inventory while trying to refrain from passing that on to the consumer.

"I have not taken a vacation in 22 years," John Ries, owner of Hot Pie Pizza, told WPTV.

Hot Pie Pizza, which has locations in downtown West Palm Beach and Royal Palm Beach, is Ries' heart and soul.

He's been in downtown West Palm Beach for 13 years. During that time, he's experienced a lot of ups and downs.

Hot Pie Pizza in downtown West Palm Beach, Sept. 6, 2022
Hot Pie Pizza has been in downtown West Palm Beach for 13 years.

"COVID almost decimates us, knocks us out," Ries said.

Now, inflation is creating a new battle for business owners like Ries.

"Everything is expediently jumping so fast, faster than you can reprint the menu, faster than you can pass that cost along to the consumer," Ries said.

He told WPTV that most of the items he needs to run his business are costing him over 20% more than they did this time last year.

"My cheese, my tomatoes, my meats, my poultry, my paper goods and all my beverages," he said. "At one point, it was bouncing around so fast and so furiously that we had to take menu items off, completely off, and one of them was steak."

John Ries, owner of Hot Pie Pizza, talks to Jessica Bruno about inflation
"At one point, it was bouncing around so fast and so furiously that we had to take menu items off, completely off, and one of them was steak," Hot Pie Pizza owner John Ries tells WPTV's Jessica Bruno about the rising cost of his food items.

Many business owners feel like they're hanging on by a thread right now, barely getting by. Experts who spoke with WPTV said some businesses may start filing for bankruptcy in the coming months.

"Because of the pandemic, there was a lot of federal aid money out there, the PPP and EIDL loans, for example, that kept a lot of companies afloat," Adam Marshall, a managing member of South Florida-based Lorium Law, said. "Now that the federal money has dried up, yes, I think we're going to see an uptick in bankruptcy filings."

Marshall, who specializes in corporate restructuring and bankruptcy, said a lot of people have been trying to weather the storm, hoping things will improve before it comes to that.

"There's always a tap dance between inflation and the measures to slow it down, which could lead to recession," Marshall said.

For Ries, he's been able to keep things afloat. However, that hasn't come without sacrifice.

"Things are good in the sense that I'm blessed enough to work, but I have to work a lot more hours and a lot more days for the same amount of money," Ries said. "So if inflation jumps 20%, I have to work 20% harder."