A new national wholesaler that caters to restaurants finally opened its doors to the food industry on Wednesday, Jan.16.
Restaurant Depot, at 22 Warehouse Row in Colonie, is a 68,000-square-foot facility that sells fresh meat, poultry, seafood, produce, dairy, beverages and supplies to restaurant owners. With 100 locations nationwide, this is the only Restaurant Depot in Upstate New York, the next closest being in Hartford, Conn. Construction on the store began over three years ago and it now sits next to I-87 and I-90.
Though the depot is not open to the general public, Branch Manager Chris Woods said it’s a convenient way for restaurant owners to come in and shop without getting several deliveries throughout the week. To become a member, customers must have a tax ID for their business. Woods said Restaurant Depot also serves small groups, including nonprofit organizations and churches.
“You are able to get anything at any time without having a delivery system going one or two days a week. Now you can come in seven days a week and get whatever you need,” Woods said.
Restaurant Depot gets new shipments every day and rotates about $1.5 million worth of inventory every week, he continued.
“The prices are direct,” Woods said. “The market versus what we’re getting because of our buying power gets us to have better pricing.”
Woods said restaurant owners can come into the depot and shop at ease, feeling less like they have to fight for products with the general public at other depot-like stores.
Since the opening, Woods said the store has about 300 customers daily. So far, 2,700 member accounts have been created and only eight of the customers had previously shopped in a Restaurant Depot before, Woods said.
Ted Cervini, who owns Bubbles Restaurant in Mechanicville, said he usually gets his food delivered through vendors including US Foods and Cisco. He said he was just browsing Restaurant Depot and likely won’t stop using his delivery system.
“They have a few things here you definitely can’t get in other places,” Cervini said. “They have some sale prices that are really good. The pricing is okay, I thought it would be a lot better. Ninety percent of the stuff here I can buy through my salesman and have it delivered at my door.”
Several other customers said they, too, were taking inventory of the new depot and seeing how it could benefit them. Ron Wilkinson, owner of Deacon Blues in Watervliet, said it was his first time at a warehouse like this.
“They seem well stocked. It’s nice it’s open on Saturdays and Sundays when my distributors are closed,” Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson said he wasn’t sure if he would cut out his delivery service altogether and only shop at Restaurant Depot for his goods.
“You may pay a few cents less here, but you’re getting it delivered right to your front door with the other companies. You have to weigh those options,” Wilkinson said. “When I go through it all and write down some numbers, then I’ll know.”