As a restaurant owner, you’ll inevitably look to restaurant vendors for all the things you need in your location. Of these, restaurant food suppliers are fundamental. The foods used to make menu items are the foundation of any food service business, and the quality of suppliers can make or break your restaurant business. Searching for restaurant food vendors is a daunting task for many restaurateurs. As such, we’ve created this guide to help.
What are Restaurant Food Vendors?
Your restaurant’s menu is the main focus of the business, thus every kitchen should have an organized inventory. Restaurant raw materials suppliers offer a convenient connection between the restaurant and the source. A kitchen will likely rely on them to provide fresh, frozen, and dry goods. If you’re a large restaurant or serve fast food, you’ll likely also need prepared foods to cut down on prep time and get orders out fast, especially during busy days. These include items like sauces, bulk liquid eggs, pre-cut meats, and more. Restaurant food suppliers are an integral part of operations because they cut down on shopping time and money. They can also give a restaurant access to some ingredients that would be otherwise hard to find.
What Do You Need?
The first step in finding the right food providers for restaurants is to know what you need. This involves creating a list of every single ingredient you will need to fulfill your menu. What are restaurant supplies categorized as in your kitchen? Basic supplier categories include:
Beverages: These range from fruit juices and smoothie mixes, to sodas and even alcohol for your cocktails.
Condiments and sauces: Apart from what you use in the kitchen, what will you be putting on the tables or sauce stations?
Baking ingredients: From flour to toppings and add-ins.
Herbs and spices: These include salt and pepper, spice blends, granulated or whole spices, seed spices, etc.
Bulk foods and kitchen staples
Fruits and vegetables
Meat and seafood
Where Do Restaurants Get Their Food Supplies?
Once you have your wish list and budget in hand, the next step is looking for supply sources. There are different types of supply chain models to consider. These include:
National Wholesale Food Suppliers
National wholesalers are a great option if you’re looking for a large selection of multiple goods from the same source, but you may have to compromise on freshness and are less likely to find specialized goods.
Working with local farmers can offer you fresher ingredients and relationship building, but you may have to pay more and likely won’t find everything you need at one convenient source.
Local Food Markets
If you’re searching for “restaurant food suppliers near me," food markets are a great avenue for finding locally-sourced ingredients as well as identifying suppliers.
Similar to working with farmers and shopping at local markets, your local butcher can be a source of fresh cuts of meat and are a trusted source of information about the origin of the meat.
These come in many sizes, from international wines to local craft breweries. Your supplier should have a wide range of options and also connect you to multiple breweries.
Food Suppliers List: Resources
There are many places you can find restaurant food suppliers. From asking around in the industry to online research, you are bound to come up with several good leads. Some useful resources include:
Referrals from other bar or restaurant owners in your area.
Business Food Suppliers: Setting a Budget
Before you start contacting suppliers, you need to know how much you can spend on your food inventory. A budget is key as it will help you distinguish between what is necessary, and what is simply nice to have. When coming up with your food budget, the main thing you should take into consideration is the price point of your menu items and what margins you need to make a profit. While you may want all the finest ingredients for your kitchen, the premium price will take a big chunk out of your profits, if not diminish them completely. Remember that the cost of food alone does not determine the menu pricing. Other items like overhead costs, competitor pricing, and service trends are factored in as well.
How to Choose the Right Restaurant Food Vendors
Once you know what you need, it’s time to contact restaurant suppliers and get price quotes. Before placing orders, take time to learn more about the businesses you are considering. Questions to ask before dealing with a new supplier include:
How long has the company been in business?
Can I see samples of products before I buy them?
What are their payment terms and return policy?
What is the minimum order?
What discounts are available (volume, early payment, cash)?
Do you have any references?
Your vendors are working for you, so don’t be afraid to ask for any information you need. They, too, are vetting you and your business.
Ready, Set, Go!
The market for restaurant suppliers is increasingly crowded, but if you do your homework and prepare accordingly, you’ll find the right partners and establish lasting supplier relationships. Revel Systems prides itself on not only providing the best POS system for restaurants but also offering our clients support, every step of the way. Contact us to learn more.