These Restaurant Chains Are Raising Their Prices

The cost of all that pizza you ordered while binge-watching "Squid Game" probably made you hit pause and wonder if you were paying more than before. In 2021, your food really did get more expensive. Meat, fish, and egg prices rose about 12.5% as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, 2022 looks pretty grim too, with a predicted increase of 5.5 to 6.5% on food produced by restaurants.

In February 2022, the New York Times reported that we were seeing wildly fast annual inflation growth. With food prices shooting up, and the labor market getting tighter than your pants after a late-night Wendy's hang (via CNBC), a majority of restaurants are in need more of your money.

Be it Starbucks or Taco Bell, Dunkin' or Domino's, every chain seems to have felt the burn of red hot inflation, and is turning to customers to cool it down. But as we know, there is little that's more exasperating than seeing your favorite restaurant ask you to pay more. Here's a run-down of restaurant chains that are unfortunately asking you to do exactly that.

Domino's Pizza

Found a couple of chicken wings missing in your Domino's order? Before you sulk or, worse, toss muted insults at your food delivery person, know that you're not alone. The $7.99 carryout deal, which gave customers the option of choosing between 10 chicken wings or a three-topping pizza, changed in January 2022. Now, instead of 10 wings, you get eight. Why so stingy, Domino's? According to CEO Ritch Allison, inflation and labor shortage contributed to the decision (via Restaurant Business). 

Inflation in the US economy has affected the cost of meat, cheese and grains that go into making a delectable pizza, per Allison. Because of this, Domino's food costs are expected to rise 8 to 10% in 2022 — which is almost four times more than in a normal year, reports Restaurant Business. Also, the labor crunch brought by the Covid-19 pandemic has the chain paying more to hire and retain its employees. Domino's is trying hard to save up — for example, the $7.99 deal is a digital-only offer, saving valuable time for employees who might otherwise be taking phone orders. Allison also said that customers also tend to order more online.

Burger King

Burger King has been pummeling its customers with one menu change after another — the chain did away with its paper coupons (via Eat This, Not That!), removed menu items, reduced the number of nuggets in its meals, and even took whopper off its discount menu (via Eat This, Not That!). The chain is set to bring more menu cuts in 2022, per Restaurant Business. From Burger King's standpoint, it's just doing whatever it can to sustain — especially after losing its position as the second-best burger chain to Wendy's in 2021 (via Forbes). 

Daniel Accordino, Chief Executive of Carrols Restaurant Group (the chain's largest franchisor in the US), said that these were all measures taken to combat inflation (via MarketWatch). The menu changes are expected to account for the 33% increase in the price of beef and a 14% increase in average hourly wages set to hit the market in the near future.


One-dollar soda at McDonald's is a thing of the past now. According to the Wall Street Journal, the chain has given its franchise operators the green light to sell soft drinks for more. This can be shocking for those, who, like Warren Buffet, have relied extensively on McDonald's uber-cheap offerings. But the fast food chain means to engage in a high-wire balancing act to keep its customers happy while dealing with inflation. The chain saw a 14% increase in operating costs in the last quarter of 2021, had to deal with supply chain issues that caused a french fry shortage in Japan in December 2021, and is chewing its nails off over rising food and paper costs (via New York Post).

McDonald's had to raise its US menu prices by 6% to compensate for the burgeoning food and labor charges, per WSJ. According to Chief Executive Chris Kempczinski, the chain is also wracking its brains to tweak the pricing on its meal combo deals in a way that doesn't scare diners away. One step in that direction was its 2022 "menu hacks", which, per Insider, gave customers something new with existing menu items.

Olive Garden

Olive Garden's parent company, Darden Restaurants, spent an extra 9% on food and beverages and an extra 9% on employee wages in the last quarter of 2021 (via Newsweek). The restaurant group decided to raise menu prices to offset the cost, all somehow without miffing its customers. As per a 2021 Wall Street Journal report, the company has been carefully tweaking menu prices. When the restaurant upped it by 2%, it observed that its customers handled the move well (thankfully, its breadsticks are still free and unlimited).  

Though Darden predicts inflation of 4% in 2022, the company isn't swearing by its menu price hike as the only solution to the looming problem. For example, Darden, which operates a variety of popular restaurants, took efforts to make sure that all of its establishments are properly staffed. Despite widespread hiring shortages in the field, Darden managed to accelerate its hiring process to add 1,000 employees.

Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel menu price changes have us humming a sad tune Here's why: after slapping on a 3% menu price hike in mid-2021, Cracker Barrel plans to further raise it by 6% in fiscal year 2022. The Tennessee-based chain plans to roll out the price increase in small bursts, analyzing customers' reactions each time. From November 2021 to January 2022, the menu prices increased by 5.3%. In the third and fourth quarters, Cracker Barrel intends to bump those up by a further 6%.

According to Chief Financial Officer, Craig Pommells, the 5.3% hike had "minimal impact" on the number of customers traipsing in for country-fried steak (via Restaurant Business). Good for them, but what's good news for the customers is that Cracker Barrel's value menus — $5.99 Sunrise Specials and $6.99 lunch specials — will remain immune to change. As is the story with seemingly every other restaurant chain, Cracker Barrel is doing this all in response to commodity and wage inflation. 

Texas Roadhouse

Next time you order your cactus blossom at Texas Roadhouse, you will feel the sting of a slightly expensive menu. The pressure of rising beef prices and increased wages pushed the chain to raise prices by 4.2% in November 2021. There was a 20% difference in the price of beef between October 2020 and 2021 (via CNBC). Texas Roadhouse, whose menu boasts myriad steak dishes, obviously bore the brunt of beef costs going ballistic. Adding to all this bleak stuff is chain's announcement that another 3% price increase is a-coming in April 2022, per Nation's Restaurant News, intended to combat high commodity costs, increasing wages, and other inflation in 2022, reports FSR.

Having said that, the Lone Star State-based chain has been careful about overcharging customers. "[W]e have not seen a negative reaction from the price increases that we took in May and November of 2021," said Jerry Morgan, Texas Roadhouse President, told Nation's Restaurant News. 

Outback Steakhouse

Outback Steakhouse has been doing some back-of-the-napkin math to ensure it stays afloat. In 2021, the chain predicted that a 10% commodity inflation next year would cost the company $100 million, labor costs will heap on another $45 million, and additional operational charges will amount to some $25 million (via FSR). It must be tough to maintain the laid-back Aussie spirit, but the steakhouse has a plan: pump up menu prices. Not cool, mate. 

The chain announced in November 2021 that it would have to increase pricing by 3%, saving the company $100 million. The Tampa Bay Times reported a good year for Bloomin' Brands, Outback Steakhouse's parent company, and even noted an increase in restaurant sales compared to 2019. Yet the chain realized that it might have underestimated the inflation of goods and labor. To balance its budget books, the chief financial officer Chris Meyer said, an additional 2% menu price increase should be appropriate.

The Cheesecake Factory

Recently, The Cheesecake Factory has faced the wrath of supply chain issues, inflation, and labor shortages brought on by a worldwide pandemic. So, all those lettuce wraps and strawberry cheesecakes that you have grown to love are about to get more expensive. The Cheesecake Factory announced that its menu prices will be up by 3.25% in 2022 (via Nation's Restaurant News). 

David Overton, CEO and chair of The Cheesecake Factory Inc., said that the company is simply responding to rising inflation and labor costs (via The Motley Fool). Having said that, things are getting better for the Detroit-based chain — the hiring has increased, Covid restrictions have been removed, and off-premises sales are high. Meanwhile, the restaurant is planning a new menu, has a new website, and is increasing by an additional five restaurant units. But it's still a little early to cut that celebration cake. If the inflation doesn't dim, the chain might have to further increase its pricing by 2% later in the year, per The Motley Fool. 


Here comes the worst morning news: A venti-sized cup from Starbucks costs 20% more than last year, reports CBS News. What was $2.45 is now $2.95. The Seattle-based chain hiked its prices three times in five months, from October 2021 to February 2022. Now, because of inflation and staffing issues, further price hikes loom. Coffee beans, per Fortune, recently saw the largest price rise in a decade, thanks to things like changing weather patterns, shipping shortages, and the cost of packaging materials and energy. 

Besides expensive beans, Starbucks is also tackling another challenge. As of January 2022, Starbucks employees in 55 of its corporate-owned shops began to unionize (via Thrillist). The company is upping its employees' salaries in the hope that it would discourage unionization and keep labor cheap. Having said that, Starbucks seems to be doing well — the company's profits between October and December 2021, went up by 31%, per the New York Times. This has some consumer advocates wondering if the rising menu prices are really a profit-making charade, reports CBS News.


For a limited time in 2022, Wendy's offered a spicy chicken sandwich and nuggets for free when customers ordered medium fries through its mobile app (via People). While the deal carried us away, what got us pumping our brakes was the chain's decision to hike its pricing. GP Plosch, Wendy's Chief Financial Officer, said, " [...] we are pricing over 5% in 2022. That gets us to double-digit pricing on a two-year basis, and it's clearly providing a tailwind for us on the [same-restaurant sales] number." (via The Street). But, what about customers who like their burgers square-shaped?

As it turns out, the popular deals, like the '4 for $4', would still be in place. While the deals won't be touched, Wendy's will increase prices on other items in the menu — though not much, the company promises. The chain also plans to juice up its breakfast business, which, though launched in 2020, didn't make it big because of the pandemic lockdown.


To offset the costs due to commodity and wage inflation, Chipotle increased its menu prices by 4% in December 2021. But it wasn't enough (just like Chipotle's queso is never enough). In 2022, the chain jacked up the pricing by a further 6%, and per Eat This, Not That!, might increase it further. CFO Jack Hartung said that beef, avocado, and freight costs had inflated more than expected. The company's decision to raise its employees' wages added extra financial pressure (via Seeking Alpha).

While one may imagine that the customers would throw a tantrum about having to pay extra for a side of guac, CEO Brian Niccol says there was "very little resistance". Meanwhile, Chipotle got spendy promoting two new menu items: smoked brisket in September 2021 and plant-based chorizo in January 2022. The company also launched "Behind The Foil," a documentary-style TV spot. Also, inflation or not, the chain plans to open 250 odd restaurants in 2022, reports Eat This, Not That!

Shake Shack

Shake Shack has been shaking up its menu prices more than ever before. While the burger chain usually increases its menu prices by 2% annually, inflation has forced it to make drastic decisions. In October 2021, it announced a 3.5% increase in menu prices. Just four months later, it announced another 3 to 3.5% price hike (via Restaurant Business). The chain knows fully well that "it is a risk," as its Chief Financial Officer Katherine Fogertey said, but is relieved that customers responded well.

The chain is still crawling back to normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic put many restaurants in an unstable position. But Shake Shack will open around 50 new restaurants in 2022, provided there are no supply chain issues. Meanwhile, you can always order online, but just know that if you choose another food delivery app over its in-house version, you'll end up paying 15% extra (via Yahoo! Finance). 

Little Caesars

For 25 years, Little Caesars' Hot-N-Ready Pizza had remained seemingly immune to price rises (via The Detroit Free Press). So, when the chain announced in October 2021 that its 14-inch pizza won't be $5 anymore, it had loyal fans thinking, "Et tu, Brute?" One particularly hurt customer tweeted about the price change with the dire words, "America has fallen". On the bright side, the rebranded pizza, as per the company, will boast 33% more pepperoni.

For those moping about the cost, Food & Wine points out that the 55-cent increase is fair because $5 in 1997 (the year the pizza was launched) is equivalent to $8.61 in 2021.

While the CEO of Little Caesars, Dave Scrivano, told Forbes that the price hike was to offset the rise in commodities and labor costs, he also specifically pointed out that pepperoni prices alone had doubled since the pandemic. "There are all kinds of pressures on businesses these days, but we still want to deliver the best product at the best value to our customers," said Scrivano. "While other companies are decreasing their portions and increasing their prices, we decided to make our pizza even better."

Taco Bell

Taco Bell menu changes are so frequent, and sometimes so shocking (like dropping Mexican Pizza), that one might think that nothing the chain does anymore could make you flinch. That is, until one reads a certain post on the r/Living Más subreddit about the chain's plans to make its $1 menu as rare as a double rainbow. In 2020, the chain flaunted 21 items that could be bought by dropping just a dollar (via Delish). But, per The Takeout, that list is now quite short.

Meanwhile, the chain had hiked its prices 10% in one year, according to Insider. The price hike also affected some core menu favorites. Since mid-2021, the chain's strategy to offset the costs has been to offer popular items for a limited time at a high price. For instance, it brought back the grilled cheese burrito (a star performer in 2020) in November 2021. "This is an example of a menu shift, where a chain rolls out more expensive offerings while quietly taking cheaper ones off menus," Mark Kalinowski, CEO of Kalinowski Equity Research, told Insider. 

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme jacked up its donut prices first in September 2021, then again a month later. But as CEO Mike Tattersfield said on Yahoo Finance Live, each donut is still around $1 each. "We are a dozens business, so we do always pay attention to an accessible price point. So when you think about the pricing that will happen on a dozen you won't really see it that much," he said. However, there is no guarantee that the donut prices won't increase further in 2022, said company executives (via Restaurant Business).

Just like every other restaurant business out there, Krispy Kreme is trying to offset the inflated costs of ingredients and a steep rise in gasoline prices. The chain is also investing in hiring a large number of employee drivers to distribute its donuts from "hubs" (large centers where the donuts are made), to "stokes" (stores). In 2021, the donut company hired 2,100 employees in the US, per Restaurant Business.


If you are a Dunkin' loyalist, you probably have already noted the grim detail about your cup of joe. It's getting expensive. A certain Redditor pointed out that the price of its medium iced coffee (with French Vanilla or Caramel) had increased from $2.88 a cup to $3.45. The menu prices at Dunkin', as per the research firm Gordon Haskett, had already increased by 8% from 2020 to 2021 (via Business Insider). And now, an oat milk iced latte from Dunkin' comes up to the spendy Starbucks' price range.

Acknowledging the price increase, JM Smucker Co., which manufactures and distributes Dunkin' branded coffee said, "Like others in the industry, we have experienced some recent coffee supply chain challenges" (via Reuters). Manufacturing, transportation, ingredients, and packaging have all gotten expensive, as the Wall Street Journal reports. The company said that it would eventually be increasing prices "to combat cost inflation, and supply chain disruptions."

Noodles & Company

Your go-to place for affordable pasta (and an extra helping of gojuchang sauce glazed meatballs) is getting expensive — Noodles & Company plans a 3 to 4% menu price increase in the second quarter of 2022 (via Nation's Restaurant News). A number of factors are to blame, one being the high cost of boneless chicken breast. According to CFO Carl Lukach, that alone is responsible for 50% of the chain's protein cost. Boneless and skinless chicken breast meat was priced at $2.33 in November-December 2021, compared to $1.96 in 2020 (via Provisioner Online). Meanwhile, COVID-19 restrictions forced the chain to close some stores and reduce operating hours, which naturally affected the company's performance in 2021.

Having said that, with new menu items, the company expects to see the same enthusiasm that its customers had shown with the 2018-released Zoodles. One, LEANguini, has half the carbs and 40% more protein than traditional pasta. But as much as we might enjoy a plate of LEANguini, it remains that Noodles & Company's menu is still more expensive than it once was.

Papa John's

Between 2020 and 2022, Papa John's introduced some premium pizza options, which can easily eat into your weekly pizza budget. As the chain's CEO Robert M Lynch said in an earnings call, "We launched Stuffed Crust. We launched New York Style, all of those at $12 or $13 national promoted price points. Those are 20% and 30% increases in price per pizza" (via Food Business News).

According to Restaurant Business, the chain's Stuffed Crust Pizza was introduced in December 2020, while the Shaq-a-roni and New York Style Pizza debuted in 2021. These three items have helped the chain offset inflation costs, reports Food Business News. Having said that, the chain did suffer shortened hours and driver shortages due to COVID-19, reports Restaurant Business. However, Lynch claimed that these were temporary problems and that the chain will bounce back. "I don't think there's a lot to be upset about with Papa John's," he said


At Wingstop, some of us are at our decisive best. There, we already know what we want: chicken wings. However, since June 2021, the chain has made its customers pause to choose between wings and thighs. Introduced as a virtual brand, Wingstop's Thighstop, which offered bone-in and boneless thighs, was an effort by the chain to offset the increased cost of bone-in wings (via Restaurant Business). Just comparing the prices of bone-in-wings in the last quarter of December 2021 with that of December 2020 shows a 41% increase (via Forbes). And with 65% of the chain's menu involving wings, one can easily imagine the financial pressure.

For Wingstop, revising its menu options wasn't enough. The chain also increased menu prices by 10% in 2021, reports Forbes. "This environment we're in, which we don't believe is transitory in any way, shape, or form, is driving the need to take price," Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison said in November 2021 (via Restaurant Business). Thankfully, in 2021 the company saw healthy growth in same-store sales and digital sales.