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The “ridiculous” cost: Lettuce shortages put restaurants in a tough spot

The “ridiculous” cost: Lettuce shortages put restaurants in a tough spot

Local restaurant owners have been forced to raise prices or make menu changes due to rising costs of iceberg and romaine lettuce.

The recent lettuce shortage affecting cities across the nation is just the latest hurdle restaurant owners are trying to overcome.

Although food prices have risen in recent months, the cost of lettuce – especially romaine and iceberg heads – has risen.

Drought conditions and crop diseases have affected supplies in California, leaving many parts of Canada in short supply, including the Sault.

North 82 owner Mike Tsokas says cases of romaine lettuce have tripled in cost, and he doesn’t see it getting any better anytime soon.

“It’s never going to be as low as it was a year or two ago,” he says. “A $170 Romanesque case is ridiculous. It’s hard to live from that.”

Tsokas has no plans to raise prices or change the menu, but says the salads will only be available as an individual menu item starting next week.

“I hate to do it, but there’s no other solution right now,” he says. “At this point, we have no choice but to pay the card. I feel bad for the customers, but what can you do about it?

Meanwhile, Stackburger is implementing changes because it’s also feeling the effects of the lettuce shortage.

“We’re switching to shredded lettuce because it allows us to get more out of each head we use,” the restaurant said in a recent social media post.

Stackburger says iceberg lettuce cases went from about $60 per case to about $156.

The burger joint will still offer lettuce wraps as an option, but they say there will be a small charge for that choice.

At The Soup Witch, co-owner and chef Mana Goodfellow says they’ve had to add the spring green mix to their homemade salads, wraps and sandwiches, which would normally have just romaine.

They also had to raise the price of salads until the wholesale price of lettuce dropped again.

“The lettuce shortage and rising prices have been tough to navigate as a small business and cafe that focuses on healthy options,” says Goodfellow. “We’re trying to make our food affordable for everyone to enjoy.”

“It’s very frustrating because these kinds of food shortages and price increases come out of nowhere and can blindside a restaurant,” he added.

In a social media post this past week, Garden River Bingo Enterprises said they will not be selling any salads during that time, noting that the cost increase has become too significant.

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