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Valley restaurant deals with rising lime prices

SCOTTSDALE — A local business says it’s feeling the pinch as the price of limes continues to rise.

Bill DeGroot, beverage director of Phoenix’s Central Bistro and Scottsdale’s Local Bistro, said in the past six weeks the price of a case of limes has roughly quadrupled.

“Price increase has gone from the middle of February, which was $27.50 for a case of limes,” he said. “To now at the high at the beginning of the week was $121.”

As of Friday the price had dropped, but was still at $102.50 per case, with each case weighing 38 pounds and supplying about 200 limes.

The price increase has made business difficult for his restaurant because he said limes are an important part of Central and Local bistros’ menu, especially as the spring and summer months usually call for more citrus based drinks such as margaritas.

“Limes are a very integral part of our cocktail program,” he said. “Limes offer balance to cocktails, also as a sweetener we use limes for a variety of things.”

DeGroot said each restaurant uses about four cases of limes each week and even his suppliers have asked him to cut back on buying limes to help drive prices down.

With a large supply of limes coming into the U.S. from Mexico, he said the suppliers attribute the increase to a bad crop year and issues with drug cartels.

Rather than increase the price of drinks, DeGroot said they have tried to turn the high cost into a unique incentive for Valley residents.

“Anybody who bring a 5-pound bag of limes will be offered a signature house cocktail, a glass of house wine or beer for one penny,” he said. “We just thought it’d be a fun play because especially because in the Arcadia or central Phoenix area a lot of that used to be orchards or groves.”

DeGroot said the promotion began Thursday night and will last until the prices of limes drops. He said two patrons have already taken advantage of the offer.