KERNERSVILLE, N.C. – The coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on the supply chain, and restaurant owners are starting to see the impact of what they call a meat shortage.
For 27 years, as owner of Clark's Barbecue in Kernersville, Randy Gentry's biggest concern has always been getting wood to cook with. Now, Gentry has much bigger concerns on the horizon - a nationwide meat shortage.
“The closest thing we had to this would be the swine flu back in '09, and it wasn’t a shortage so much as it is the price went up, we could get it; it was just very expensive," Gentry said.
This issue now is not the price, but getting the product. Meat processing plants across the country are being hit hard after the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union estimated Tuesday that 20 meat packing and food processing workers have died from the virus. Meanwhile, Gentry is already seeing the effects this is having on meat supply, and he's starting to worry.
“We sell pork barbecue. If we run out of the pork barbecue, we will go to something else, but everyone else is going to do the same thing, and it’s going to put a strain on the next item down the line, and it’s just going to be a domino effect," Gentry added.
Gentry said the restaurant's most popular food item is pork shoulders, and that's where he's seeing the biggest shortage from his suppliers. He said he may need to find something else to serve.
“Chopped chicken or barbecue chicken, possibly bringing a pizza oven and doing pizza, just doing something," Gentry said.
On Tuesday, President Trump declared meat processing plants "critical infrastructure," in an effort to ensure facilities around the country remain open to prevent shortages of meat. Restaurant owners like Gentry are crossing their fingers that something can be resolved before it's too late.
“We’re making contingency plans to stay open. That’s the main thing, just trying to stay open and keeping people employed," Gentry said.
Restaurant Owner Experiences Meat Shortage Impact
UPDATED 11:30 AM ET Apr. 30, 2020 PUBLISHED 5:05 PM EDT Apr. 29, 2020