Rise in rideshare costs hurting DC restaurants

As restaurants continue to try to stay alive post-pandemic, the manager of Ivy City Smokehouse in D.C. says the cost of food isn't the only thing hurting his business. 

The price of rideshares is turning some customers away. 

Eating out just isn't the same anymore. ​"Right now, it's hard to do a good tip and be able to afford coming here every day," said Jakob Garvey, a patron dining at Ivy City Smokehouse.

Garvey says he pays almost 33% more for an Uber or Lyft to the restaurant.

"It was normally like $7 to get here from where I was, and now it's $10 to $13 so it's kind of hurting a little bit."

Peter Loftus is the manager at Ivy City Smokehouse. He's been hearing similar complaints from customers at the bar. 

"People check and say 'do you know an Uber cost $14 last year and now they want $22. It's hard to keep up," Loftus said.

With fares on the rise, managers like Loftus are concerned it will turn people away from dining out. 

Jonathan Aberman, the dean of the College of Business, Innovation Leadership and Technology at Marymount University, said, "The restaurant industry is always at the edge of our economy when there is a change; Either they don't want to go because of COVID or because it's more expensive."

"I don't think that they are especially suffering because of Uber and Lyft," Aberman continued. "I think that the economy generally is seeing higher costs being passed down to the consumers which is forcing consumers to want to spend less money."

As fares go up, Loftus is noticing there are fewer drivers on the road available to pick up and drop people off at the restaurant. 

"I had on file some names of people that I would call in a pinch with Uber and Lyft for some of our guests, and they've all moved on," Loftus said.

Aberman said there is some relief on the way. The cost of oil is down 20%, which is a sign of hope for consumers, drivers, and businesses. 

"What we have seen in the past, is that when oil cost really declines fast, and they have, and they can and do, we can see a dramatic change in the inflationary environment that would almost become a Christmas bonus for people," Aberman explained. 

Loftus is hoping his business will be able to weather the storm. "I'm positive," he said. "We made it through the pandemic, and we will make it through this."