The hits just keep on coming. SouthCoast restaurants now may have to add something else to their list of setbacks: the "potato wart."

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced the discovery of the potato wart, a soil-borne disease caused by a fungus, on major Prince Edward Island farms, bringing exports to a sudden halt. Our area businesses use a lot potatoes from there.

"No doubt about it, there will be an impact to the area," said Dan Magalhaes, owner/operator of State Fruit Food Service in New Bedford. "This is a continuation of the roller coaster ride we've been on for the past two years, and it just adds more to the grind for local businesses. Everyone we talk to on a daily basis, say the same thing: we're looking for help, and I'll tell you, if they get hit with a problem like this, imagine a breakfast spot not having any home fries."

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At the popular Jake's Diner in Fairhaven, breakfast chef Brian Nunes said not having fresh potatoes for home fries or mashed would put them in a difficult situation.

"We'd have to substitute fruit or baked beans or the like and that would change the bottom line," he said.

Nunes said this was the first time hearing about the Canadian potato wart problem.

"No, our suppliers haven't mentioned anything to us yet," he said.

Would customers accept French fries or fried tater tots in the place of homemade home fries?

"Well, only if it's a crowd pleaser," he said. "But I'll tell you, we're complimented every day for our home fries sprinkled with our self-made seasoning. Customers ask for side dishes of them or packed to go. We'll go through more than one hundred pounds each day, Saturdays and Sundays."

Nunes was protective of revealing what ingredients he uses in his home fries seasoning, but he was affable and willing to go out on a limb when talking about pleasing his diner customers.

"If there's a shortage of potatoes, I know some of our customers would agree to getting a couple extra slices of bacon instead," he said.

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