I question anyone who says there's no inflation, says billionaire restaurateur Tilman Fertitta

Key Points
  • Tilman Fertitta pointed to inflation trends he's seeing in his sprawling restaurant business on CNBC's "Power Lunch."
  • The billionaire pushed back against market commentators who say there is no inflation in the economy, saying he "doubts" the analysis considering his rising operational costs.
Don't tell me there's 'no inflation': Tilman Fertitta

Billionaire Tilman Fertitta doesn't buy the narrative that there's no inflation in the U.S. economy.

"I continue to question everybody when they say there is no inflation," the founder and CEO of restaurant giant Landry's told CNBC's "Power Lunch" on Thursday.

So far in 2017, even outgoing Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has commented on the "surprise" of low inflation, or the rate of rising prices for goods and services.

Fertitta, chief of the parent company behind Bubba Gump Shrimp and Rainforest Cafe, used the state of the restaurant business as a focal point for his argument. Fertitta is also the star of CNBC reality show "Billion Dollar Buyer."

"In my business, cost to sales is up, labor cost is up, it's more expensive to sign a lease today … so occupancy is up," Fertitta said. "And I think margins in all businesses are hurting a little bit, but business is good."

But to run a good business amid rising operational costs, companies like Fertitta's have to increase prices for the consumer.

"We continue to raise prices to our customers to overcome this, so don't tell me there's no inflation. Because I know that I'm charging the customer more and everything costs me more. So I still doubt that," the CEO said.

And as corporations and individuals across the country race to digest the fine print of the new tax law, Fertitta said one effect of it could stymie purchasing power even more.

"The one thing that everybody is going to notice, though ... and this is where the Democrats are screaming, 'This is bad for you,' [is] everybody's paycheck's going to be a little bigger, even when you're in the highest tax bracket," Fertitta said. "We are going to all feel more in our paycheck."