PORTLAND, Ore. -- No matter how you say tomato, if you've shopped the produce department lately, you're saying ouch.
Prices are also causing some restaurant to change how they prepare and serve a basic of the menu, tomatoes.
Tomatoeshave doubled in price in the past week.
You can't have a BLT with no tomato, laughed Julius Baliola, Chef at Huber's in downtown Portland.
No matter how you slice it, the tomato shortage is playing havoc with local restaurants.Baliola, for one, has started to cut back on using tomatoes.
Two each on cherry tomatoes, but right now we're just putting one, said Baliola.
And as other costs increase, expect to see some restaurants start to raise prices. Blame some of it on the unseasonable freeze across the south and in Mexico. It's damaged tomatoes and put the squeeze on supply, and now on prices of most produce.
It kind of came up on us pretty quick, said Tom Barwick, vice president of Sheridan Fruit Company in Portland.
Sheridan Fruit Company services more than 200 area restaurants. Barwick said most every type of produce has been impacted, from green and red peppers to cucumbers and lettuce. Supply and demand means chefs are paying more.
Anywhere from $50 to $60 a case, where typically this time of year it would be around anywhere from $20 to $25, Barwick said.
The shortage and corresponding price increase comes at timewhen the economy is improving slightly, and more people are starting to eat out again. The produce prince spikeis another setback restaurants don't need.
At the Stepping Stone Cafe in Northwest Portland, if you want tomatoes, Chef Daniel Robayo said you'll pay extra. Customers are warned at the door with a sign.
Half my dishes have tomatoes in them right now. I'm definitely going to have to restructure and rethink about everything that I'm doing.
It's not only price, it's also about quality. While produce is good now, there is concern as supplies dwindle over the next few weeks.
We have tomato in everything, said Yvette Kirwin, Director of kitchen operations for Pastini Pastaria.
The Oregon restaurant chain is one of the larger users of tomatoes.
Probably in a week we're using about 15 cases of tomatoes, said Kerwin.
Kirwin luckily signed contracts with suppliers weeks ago to ensure a steady delivery.
They've kind of given us priority, that we're not having to cut back at this time, Kerwin said.
Pre-freeze prices aren't expect to roll back for about another month.