Tulsa area restaurants dealing with the high cost of tomatoes

Tuesday, November 23rd 2004, 10:21 am
By: News On 6

The Florida hurricanes and California flooding have produced some very pricey tomatoes. $4 a pound is not uncommon.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells found two Tulsa businesses, which use lots of tomatoes and are handling this tomato crisis very differently.

It’s taco and burrito day at the Skyline Snack Shops in downtown Tulsa. It's a big day for tomatoes, but tomatoes have gotten a little expensive. Cris Wimer: "The price of tomatoes has gone crazy."

The price she pays for a case of tomatoes has basically tripled, so they've added a tomato surcharge of 25 cents. So when they ask. "You want tomatoes on it." A "Yes" will cost you an extra quarter.

They say a small business like this just can't absorb such a big spike in prices, it's only the second time in nine years they've added a surcharge like this because of produce prices.

“You can't change your menu prices every time the market changes." A different philosophy, but Nancy Gomez of Chimi's says it would be too disruptive so they've decided to just take the hit. "It hurts but we'll get through it."

She says they've taken steps to reduce the amount of tomato products they waste. For example, Chimi's makes all its own salsa and you can have all you want, but the refills may come only when you ask for them. She says her three restaurants currently buy about 4,000 pounds of tomatoes every month. She's says they'll not change the recipes they'll just absorb the higher cost.

Thanksgiving's just ahead and thankfully at $4 a pound; tomatoes are not a major ingredient at the holiday table.

Most suppliers agree it will be the end of December before supplies begin to recover and prices return to something closer to normal.