RESTAURANTS: Costs, election drive concern

2012-10-21T00:00:00Z 2013-12-18T16:31:47Z RESTAURANTS: Costs, election drive concernBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

Uncertainty and the prospect of higher food prices have restaurant owners feeling cautious after enjoying a strong summer.

August was the 10th month in a row the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index stood above 100, which represents expansion. Since the national jobs recovery began in March 2010, the restaurant industry has created jobs at more than double the rate of the overall economy.

But this year's drought is expected to have its biggest impact on food prices in the first quarter of 2013 and it is also expected fuel prices will stay high, according to John Barney, president of Barney Enterprises, owner of several Wendy's restaurants locally. Not knowing what will happen with health insurance costs after the election also has restaurant owners on edge.

"There is no question we do not know what will happen with the tax situation," Barney said."We have a lot of capital items we would like to do but we can't do that if taxes go up."

There are estimates the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, popularly called "Obamacare," could chop 20 percent off the bottom line for quick service restaurants, Barney said.

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