Food prices have continued to climb, growing with no real end in sight.

The forecast is bleak for anyone hoping for the price of produce to reduce. As the year has marched on, so too have prices continued to escalate, stretching the budget ever thinner for both households and restaurants alike. 

Local eateries are holding on to the prices their customers can tolerate as best they can. Places like Nightjar Diner in Swift Current have been stepping around the high-price minefield carefully, opting to shop more locally to reduce overheads for shipping and delivery. 

Nightjar Dining Co.A wintery shot of the Nightjar Diner Co. exterior. (photo by Kash Knight)

Shaun Hanna, co-owner of Nightjar Diner Co, is determined to do what's necessary to continue providing a level of quality that his customers have come to expect, for a price they can respect as fair.

"We've had to really kind of watch our spending in other areas of the business where we can so that we can still serve great food and offer great service to our guests without being hit too hard on our bottom line," said Hanna. "That's always a balancing act."

While the strategies at play for a local option are different from those available to a chain location, such as Original Joe's, there are quite a bit of similarities. 

Tyler Wallin, general manager for the Swift Current Original Joe's, has been making stops at local providers in order to keep stocked up on key ingredients.

"We're always sourcing different things locally," said Wallin. "We're making trips to local grocery stores multiple times a week in order to help with those costs, and to find the deals that we can to make things work better." 

Neither one of these locations, local or national, wants to see their expenses reflected on their menus. Even as shortages ratchet up the prices of things like lettuce and chicken, there is a sentiment of bearing the burden to help ensure quality doesn't take a hit.

"We're always going to make sure that we're offering the best quality we can to our guests," said Wallin. "Obviously if we're not getting the best quality of products into our location, it won't ever hit the table in front of our guests."

With people getting more used to these prices, they are also starting to get used to budgeting around them. Something that Hanna has noticed is that for some, the choice to eat out has become a much more important decision.

"When they do eat out, they tend to spend more," said Hanna. "That isn't just a reflection of the new pricing. It's that they're really looking for the best value for their money. If they're only going once or twice a week, let's make it an experience."

While business isn't back to pre-pandemic levels, especially with prices the way they are, Wallin expects things to carry on improving despite the challenges they face.

"You may see a few cutbacks here and there, but I think overall things have stayed strong in the economy," said Wallin. "Moving forward, especially in the Southwest, we always have a very strong economy in this part of [Saskatchewan]."