Business, Central New York, Consumer, food

Holy (Lack of) Guacamole! Local Mexican Restaurant Not Serving Guacamole

By Jenna Babyak SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) You might be accustomed to your server warning you that “Guacamole is extra.” But now at Alto Cinco in the Westcott neighborhood, your server will say, “Sorry, we don’t have any guacamole.”

The restaurant has been around for 20 years, and this is the first time that they have stopped serving guacamole. Droughts and fires in California have caused avocados to be very expensive, according to the Agricultural Marketing Research Center. There is a low supply of avocados—this year’s harvest was only about half of 2016’s crop. The demand is extremely high; the average American consumed 7 pounds of avocado in 2014, which is up from 1.1 pounds in 1989. Thomas Ward, prep cook at Alto Cinco, said that the quality of avocados the restaurant was receiving had been extremely poor, and so they just stopped ordering avocados.

“Quality is the number one factor in our food, and we make everything from scratch,” Ward said. “We couldn’t end up making the guacamole that we were serving before. So that’s why we don’t have it on the menu any more.”

It doesn’t help the local Mexican restaurant that the food is so popular. Avocado food items are being served at places that have never traditionally served the fruit.

“Another contributing factor is that avocados have been more popular with other restaurants,” Ward said. “You know avocado toast, and things like that. I mean, even McDonalds has avocados. So that changes our whole dynamic and raises the price, and then we’re not getting quality ones in lieu of that.”

Alto Cinco acknowledged that its customers were frustrated and tried to find an alternative, but Ward said it did not turn out well.

“One time we tried to order frozen avocados.” Ward said, laughing. “And it was the worst quality in the world. It tasted like Taco Bell or something. So we couldn’t do it.”

Ward did not seem confident that guacamole will be back on the Alto Cinco menu any time soon.

“When will it return? I don’t know,” he said, shaking his head.” I don’t know. When things are better, I guess. I don’t know.”

Thomas Ward has been a prep cook at Alto Cinco for 20 years. (c) 2017 Jenna Babyak