Italian restaurant faces closure over soaring cost of pasta and veg shortage
The owner of an Italian restaurant in Bristol says he fears he will go out of business because of the increased price of pasta and the current vegetable shortage.
Carmine Montuori, 52, has run the Taste of Napoli with his family for the past six years.
He says pasta prices have increased by 80% while the cost of arancini has doubled, as the UK continues to grapple with the cost of living crisis.
He said his business is in danger of folding within three months because of vegetable shortages, blamed on adverse weather conditions in producing countries in Europe and Africa.
Several UK supermarkets are rationing the vegetables on their shelves as a result, with shoppers limited to how many tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers they can buy.
Montuori said he would have to charge his customers double what they are currently paying for meals - or pull about a quarter of his menu - for the restaurant to survive.
He says if ingredient prices don't fall in the next couple of months, the business has "no chance of staying on the market".
Montuori, a father-of-three, said: "It's a real problem. The vegetable prices from wholesalers are 50% higher than last month.
"But we have no choice because we can't get them from the supermarkets - the shelves are empty.
"Rice prices for our arancini have doubled and the Italian pasta we use has gone up by 80% too.
"Soon we'll have to start taking things off the menu - or we'd have to charge double to make the same profit.
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"But if we did that then we'd have no customers.
"If the prices don't go down in the next three or four months, we'll need to close.
"People don't realise the struggle independents have - the big companies can survive just fine, but we can't.
"Everything we sell is hand-made fresh but some people don't want to pay more for a slice of pizza here than in a big chain like Greggs."
Montuori said prices of imported goods increased for his business after the UK left the European Union, and were starting to fall before the coronavirus pandemic struck.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has caused the price of gas and fuel to skyrocket, increasing his overheads and transport costs, he said. The price of flour and oil also increased last year.
Most of the items on the restaurant's menu have been put up by 20% already, he said.
"I can't double my prices to make profit because then nobody would come in," said Montuori.
"The big restaurant chains can handle that, but if we don't make profit we don't get paid.
"If people see a price in a shop get higher they think the shop wants more profit. But with us, we don't have a choice.
"The best thing would be if the government could help, especially for the independent places.
"We need help because if this continues for the next three to five months we have no chance of staying on the market."