Wholesale Restaurant Supply: Tips On Getting Started

Joanna Okedara
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    Opening a business in the highly competitive restaurant industry can prove to be challenging if you do not have all your basics covered-like efficient business systems-before you start. You must understand that running a successful restaurant business depends on numerous factors. 

    These factors include being in the right location, having great dessert menu options, and using the perfect internal decorations, bar dimensions, and lighting. You also need to have a steady flow of restaurant supplies and integrate the best restaurant management system.

    Among these factors, having a steady flow of wholesale restaurant supply is crucial to restaurant success. A report on restaurant failure rate shows that about 60% of restaurants fail within the first year of operation. (CNBC)

    Restaurant failure is largely attributed to not knowing how to cut the costs involved in running a restaurant. While it is not advisable to cut down on quality, new restaurant owners do not adequately research the right places to get wholesale products and wholesale restaurant supplies.

    In the long run, they end up spending money in all the wrong places and exhausting their budget for restaurant supplies. Ultimately, it becomes difficult to keep the doors open and the customers flowing in.

    You can position your restaurant business for success from the get-go. With a good business model, great food, and the right restaurant wholesalers for your wholesale restaurant supply, your business will be ready to tackle any challenge.

    So, down to the ultimate question: where do restaurants shop? Let’s discuss how to get started with wholesale restaurant supply.

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    Wholesale Restaurant Supply: Restaurants Supplies to Get You Started

    Before you start your restaurant business, it is essential to know where to get your wholesale restaurant supplies. Now, these supplies are not just limited to food products and beverages. Restaurant supplies also include your kitchen supplies, bar counter equipment, restaurant equipment, and other non-perishable items.

    Key Takeaway - Wholesale produce suppliers are an integral part of your business. Unless you plan to make your unique restaurant chairs and tables, farm the food products on your menu, and press your wine, it is almost impossible to run your restaurant without restaurant wholesalers.

    You don’t need to break the bank to offer your customers an aura of class, luxury, sophistication, or simplicity when they walk into your restaurant. The restaurant wholesaler you choose for your unique wholesale restaurant supply should offer the perfect balance between quality and affordability.

    One thing to consider before reaching out to restaurant wholesalers is what you need in your restaurant. This may include your restaurant equipment, furniture to match your restaurant bar setup, food, and other restaurant supplies.

    Now, let’s jump into the different restaurant wholesale supplies you need to get started with your new restaurant business.

    Like our wholesale content? You may want our wholesale purchase agreement template. Check out our shipping and handling eBook, too.

    Restaurant Wholesale Food Products Supplies

    So, how do restaurants buy food in bulk? For restaurants that do not operate farm-to-table models, wholesale food distributors are critical to the success of their operations.

    Before selecting a restaurant food wholesaler, it is necessary to do some research. Researching any potential wholesale food suppliers will help you set your budget. 

    It is important that the food suppliers on your checklist can supply what you need for your menu items. They must be able to deliver on quality and time. Wholesale food is one thing your restaurant should never run out of.

    You may consider sourcing your food ingredients from a local supplier. However, you may not find all the supplies you need for food from one vendor. In this case, you can find vendors that supply the different food items you require. You can also work with wholesale dropshipping suppliers that dropship food items.

    Before making the final decision on which food supplier to work with, it is crucial to check their food storage and processing activities. Most wholesale food suppliers use warehouse distribution centers to store food under the perfect storage conditions. They also implement wholesale distribution software with warehouse inventory management systems to make it easier to distribute food supplies in wholesale distribution.

    Want to get familiar with wholesale restaurant products? Download our free Wholesale Produce eBook, Wholesale Meat and Seafood eBook, and Wholesale Dairy eBook to learn more.

    Using a robust vendor management system and implementing various supplier relationship management strategies will help you keep track of all wholesale food vendors. Here are some general food items you need to purchase from wholesale vendors:

    • Wholesale meat and proteins
    • Wholesale seafood
    • Herbs, spices, and oils
    • Pasta and grains
    • Veggies and fruits
    • Rice and grains
    • Sweeteners, such as sugar
    • Simple syrup
    • Ingredients for dessert selections

    Next, let’s review the different types of wholesale food and beverage suppliers and tips on how to find them.

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    How Do Restaurants Look For Food Suppliers?

    • Wholesale dairy supply

    Wholesale dairy vendors supply dairy products including cheese, organic milk, and yogurt. Before choosing a supplier, it is important to check the source of the dairy products.

    Most reputable dairy wholesale suppliers are transparent about the dairy farming conditions, animal health, and storage temperature. You need to look into these before making your final decision.

    • Wholesale produce supply

    No matter the type of restaurant you run, having veggies and fruits as a part of your menu options is a must. The food produce wholesaler you choose must be able to deliver fresh produce on time.

    Most restaurants combine two or more methods to source produce. The first method is using major food providers like Sysco. These establishments are known to deliver quality food produce.

    The second method is using local suppliers or local farm markets. This method is cheaper and you are sure of the freshest produce. 

    Another way to find fresh produce is to use a multi vendor marketplace platform. Some online marketplace apps can connect restaurants to local suppliers and wholesale restaurant supplies.

    • Wholesale meat supply

    There are two options when sourcing wholesale meat suppliers. The first option involves directly working with a local farm for your poultry, pork, beef, and other meat products. You can build close relationships with the local farm and get the freshest meat at affordable prices.

    However, if you are more concerned about restaurant technologies and processing activities, then you can consider using larger companies. Large-scale companies have a network of farmers and butchers.

    Most of these large companies have resources to ensure food safety. They can also get the meat restaurant-ready.

    • Wholesale seafood supply

    Most wholesale seafood vendors supply fresh and locally sourced bulk fish and seafood. Restaurants usually work with multiple seafood wholesalers to meet up with their requirements. You can consider working with different fish farms to get the supplies you need.

    • Wholesale beverage supply

    You can source wholesale alcohol, wines, and beers from local suppliers. Another way to find wholesale beverage supplies is by going straight to large suppliers and companies.

    It is important to take into account the preferences of your customers when stocking up on beverages, alcohol, and beers. However, it is better to combine more than one source to have enough varieties in your bar and restaurant.

    Restaurant Wholesale Equipment and Furniture Supplies

    From coolers and grills to ovens and fryers, wholesale restaurant supplies for equipment and furniture are usually one-time purchases. However, it is important to factor in the elements of wear and tear leading to possible future repairs.

    When choosing a restaurant wholesaler for large equipment and furniture supplies, make sure they offer great warranties on products. This will save costs on repairs. Here is a list of the supplies for wholesale restaurant equipment that you should think about, from front of house to back of house:

    Food storage and work surfaces: 

    • Storage areas: cold food tables, steam tables, prep tables, walk-in refrigerators, and freezers.
    • Utensils: knives, spatulas, tongs, storage containers, microwave-safe containers, brushes, ladles, and serving spoons.

    Kitchen appliances:

    • Cooking utensils such as stoves, ovens, microwaves, grills, griddles, fryers, pasta cookers, immersion cookers, steamers, and broilers.
    • Kitchen appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, condensation hoods, heat lamps, soda fountains, espresso machines, and ice makers.

    Front-of-house furnishings and equipment:

    • Furniture such as tables, chairs, booths, bar furniture, and a host stand. 
    • Decorative elements such as paint, wallpaper, carpeting, and window coverings.
    • Equipment such as wine aerator, wine purifier, and wine decanter.

    Restaurant Point of Sale (POS) System

    A restaurant POS system provides various restaurant management features. These features include intelligent reporting and analytics, loyalty program management, inventory management, inventory turnover, and customer relationship management.

    Integrating a POS system with your restaurant business process flow will reduce various manual processes and errors. It will also boost your restaurant’s productivity and profitability.

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Wholesale Restaurant Supply

    Getting wholesale restaurant supplies for your restaurant business is important, and so is finding the right wholesale food distribution suppliers. Let's answer some common questions about wholesale restaurant supplies.

    How Do I Find Restaurant Suppliers?

    You can find restaurant suppliers through wholesale marketplaces online or by looking through a wholesale directory to connect with local suppliers. Depending on your supply needs, the best way to find wholesale restaurant supply is using an online B2B eCommerce platform.

    Most food wholesale distributorships implement distributor marketing strategies that make it easy for restaurants to find them. Check out our eCommerce business guide to learn more.

    What Is Local Sourcing of Food?

    Local sourcing of food is when restaurant owners or businesses source food items from local farmers, fish markets, and producers of fresh food items. It is also another way restaurant owners find wholesale restaurant supply.

    What Is Farm to Table Concept?

    Farm to table concept is when restaurants make food and restaurant menu items from home-grown ingredients. The home-grown ingredients, meat, dairy products, and produce, all come from local farms.

    Now You’re Ready to Start Your Restaurant

    The restaurant industry is tough. Having the right management tools and wholesale restaurant supply vendors will make your operations flow easier.

    Be certain to choose the right business partners and wholesalers for your business. With these quality recommendations and strategies, you can get started with your restaurant business.

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