Restaurants deal with climbing clam prices

It seems there are a number of factors driving up prices.
Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 7:26 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - As people start to sit down and enjoy dining inside restaurants again, they may notice a change in prices for some items. Especially a Maine favorite: clams. We spoke to several local eateries about the climbing prices.

”Our takeout is definitely keeping us alive and going. Dining, we are open for. It’s been a slow start,” says Katie Rosenburg, manager of Eagle’s Nest in Brewer. It’s just one of many restaurants getting back in the swing of things as they welcome guests back inside. One thing that might look a little different on the menu is the prices.

“Within the last month, clams have really gone high. We don’t normally do market price. We have had to go up this week on our price of clams. We do keep it so our menu says prices are subject to change just because you never know,” she says.

She says while the price of clams normally does go up this time of year, there are a number of factors causing them to be as high as they are.

“They’re in big demand in Massachusetts down on the Cape, so it’s driving our prices up. We have social distancing, and it’s not only affecting us, it’s affecting the plants. They’re having 14 people shucking clams. They have to social distance themselves as well, so they’re not able to produce the same amount of clams as well. So that’s driving prices up. Talking to my food suppliers, they don’t see it going down anytime soon.”

Over at Governor’s, Director of Operations Jason Clay says they’re seeing it, too.

“Honestly, right now, we’ve never paid more for clams than in the recent weeks,” says Clay.

“There’s a lot of pressure on clam diggers not available to go dig clams. The whole COVID thing has turned that into a unique situation, too, where there’s a lot of competing interests there for folks who might be digging clams right now.”

Like the Eagle’s Nest, they’ve had to increase menu prices.

“Typically, we’d see somewhere around $18-$19 for a small size and $24-$25 large. Right now, they’re around $22 for a small. We’re paying anywhere from $170 to $190 dollars a gallon where we might see that in the 100 dollar range in years past.”

At Angler’s in Hampden, they’re paying more, but the customer isn’t because their prices aren’t market based.

“We’ve had a spike in clam prices. They’ve gone up $50 a gallon. We just weren’t sure where this was going to go with the whole pandemic, and we didn’t want to scare people off with raising our prices,” says Manager Missy Hopkins.

They all say the prices of other seafood has gone up as has the price on things like beef and chicken as processing plants deal with the pandemic. They’re also seeing a shortage of supplies, like gloves.

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