By Dominic Bitterman
Customers were shocked and some outraged, as local breakfast hotspot Nudy’s Cafe in Conshohocken ran out of eggs due to a delay in its supply chain. It was a chaotic day for the waitstaff and restaurant management. The store lost hundreds of dollars in orders and many of its customers.
The cafe’s regular delivery of eggs did not arrive early Thursday morning, leaving the restaurant without its top-selling commodity. The absence of eggs created a horde of angry and astonished customers who found out they couldn’t order one-third of the items on the menu.
“I have never heard of this restaurant, or any other breakfast restaurant, not having eggs,” said Nudy’s waiter Francis Grey. On this busy morning, the unimaginable happened because Grey said Nudy’s dairy provider lacked drivers for deliveries.
Nudy’s employees saw the scene unfold as they arrived at 6:45 a.m. with the kitchen staff frantically explaining they had not yet received their usual dairy delivery.
“I immediately called our supplier. Their answer made my heart drop,” said Nudy’s manager, Stephen Mills. “We had a rush of customers as soon as the doors opened at 7 a.m. The holdover supply [of eggs] from the previous day ran out by 8 a.m.”
Dine-in customers’ requests for egg platters, breakfast sandwiches, omelets, and benedicts were met with sheepish refusals by waitstaff, who tried to explain the situation. Some customers laughed and ordered pancakes instead. Other early morning patrons were not amused. Many stormed out of the restaurant, showing little sympathy for the restaurant’s predicament.
Mills said the store gets a weekly shipment of eggs and will go through almost the entire amount by the next shipment. Approximately 500 eggs are used daily, sometimes more depending on the day. He said business has been particularly busy with many of the area’s surrounding office buildings reopening, making timeliness of deliveries essential.
As the morning carried on, employees ran into more calamity as the online takeout ordering system piled on orders from DoorDash and GrubHub for egg items.
The understaffed restaurant’s skeleton crew of waitstaff and management tried to serve dine-in customers. Meanwhile, Mills tried to keep a small mob of delivery drivers and takeout customers from rioting as he attempted to offer meals with replacement items or full reimbursements.
Mills then canceled the remaining and future DoorDash and GrubHub orders. However, he does not have control of the online ordering system for Nudy’s website.
“We receive a lot of takeout orders through our website, especially with our location being in the middle of several office buildings. We get orders of 10 or more items [from offices] daily,” said Mills.
He spent most of the day contacting customers who placed online orders with egg-related items to explain the problem. As a result, the customers canceled takeout orders worth hundreds of dollars.
After trying to contact the dairy supplier several times to no avail, a representative returned Mills’ calls to apologize for the mishap. There was a scheduling error due to a lack of drivers, so no one was assigned to deliver the order.
The national shortage of food supplies has directly affected the business of Nudy’s Cafe previously. However, this incident has been the most extreme.
“We’ve had days recently without sugar packets or ketchup. Sometimes we’ve run out of French toast bread,” said Grey. “Our Herr’s [potato] chip delivery is running four days late due to the same staffing issue with delivery drivers.”
Mills said certain foods have gone up in price and become scarcer. The root of this situation stems from food processing facilities not having enough employees to run their businesses properly. The labor shortage has created a chain reaction throughout the nation as restaurants and supermarkets raise prices and cut some items from their selection.
The dairy supplier sent a rush order to Nudy’s Cafe. It arrived at 3 p.m., a little too late.
“This has been the weirdest and most chaotic day since I have started working here,” said Grey. “I’ve never been more happy to see a carton of eggs in my life.”