Rise in food prices leads to menu changes at some Houston restaurants

By Lauren Freeman - Anchor

HOUSTON - From beef to limes to avocados, the cost to eat is going up. Some farm to table restaurants are having to make changes as a result.

Anyone in the restaurant business has to watch food prices closely and lately the prices on staples like coffee, limes, avocados, beef and dairy are up.

Scott Fernandez is the executive chef at the popular eatery Sorrel Urban Bistro on West Alabama in Upper Kirby. With lime prices almost five times the price they usually are, he's feeling it. Sorrel is a farm to table restaurant -- they buy mainly from local farmers and ranchers.

"Here we have a lot of advantages because we change our menu every day," Fernandez said.

He says they change the menu depending on what's available and the prices.  In the warmer months starting now fish is mainly what people want so beef prices aren't hitting them as hard.

A pound of ground beef has hit $3.55 a pound, which is a record. The average for round steak is at $5.28, among the highest prices seen in the last 20 years. Blame droughts in Texas and California and a growing demand for U.S. beef from overseas markets like Asia.

However, at Sorrel they have some staples they can't stop serving.

"We've got fantastic Hereford ground meats that we use for our burgers and it's a fantastic burger and in that case you just have to take the costs, you can't raise it because that's what they've been paying the whole time," said Fernandez.

Coffee prices surged to their highest level in more than a year at $1.55 a pound. The culprit -- dry conditions in Brazil.

Droughts in Texas and California have pushed up cattle feed prices. Milk, cheese and other dairy prices are also higher. A possible increase of as much as 60 cents could push the price of milk close to $5 or $6 a gallon.

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