Last month, the International Monetary Fund reported that Venezuela’s inflation rate will reach 10 million percent next year. And with prices rising at an alarming rate, more and more businesses are forced to close their doors.
CGTN’s Juan Carlos spoke with a restaurant owner determined to survive the country’s hyperinflation.
Four days a week, the owner of Misenplas sushi-restaurant, Joanna Rutenberg, races around Caracas searching for fresh fish and other ingredients for her Venezuelan take-on sushi. Finding the right ingredients can mean driving for hours across the city, sometimes returning to her restaurant without many of the items she needs.
“I have the money, and my motorcycle but quite often I cannot find the ingredients I need, sometimes instead of expending 30 minutes looking for the ingredients, it takes more than two hours to do it, because I have to drive across the whole city to find for example the food packaging. ” said Joanna Rutenberg, Owner and Executive Chef at Misenplas.
The price of the raw ingredients is increasing across the country. Rutenberg used to list new prices every day for her customers just to keep up with hyperinflation, but that has changed.
“People ask me why some of my dishes’ prices are equal to international prices, and the answer is most of my products are bought abroad – and I have to pay my workers according to international standards as well, so to keep my business running, I had to dollarize prices, there’s no other way.” she added.
After starting her business six years ago by making food for parties and events, Rutenberg now says her business is expanding.
But not all commercial enterprises are as lucky as Misenplas, Venezuela’s National Council of Commerce and Services estimates between 40 -45 percent of all stores have closed down across the country.
“I won’t lie, I’ve thought about leaving, but for now I’m happy working hard here with Misenplas, which is a very successful business.” Angel Sala, Chef, Misenplas.
Despite the many challenges, patrons seem to like what they’re getting.
“Misenplas cannot be compared with any restaurant in Venezuela, all of their food from sweet to salty is simply unique.” said customer Silvia Bianchi.
From tuna burgers to sushi burritos, Misenplas is determined to keep innovating in a difficult market and hoping that will keep customers coming back.