Finding Suppliers for Your Restaurant

To execute your concept, you will need vendors to supply your product needs. The types of purveyors can vary greatly, from specialty suppliers of imported goods, produce or meat focused vendors, to one-stop-shop vendors that can service your entire restaurant. Your concept will dictate the type of suppliers that you will need—an Asian inspired restaurant will need a different set of vendors than a local, organic salad concept. Additionally, your restaurant’s financial model will also impact the type of vendor you can afford.

“The best way to find vendors”, said Matt Bernero, Chef de Cuisine of Minetta Tavern, “is from your industry network or through a firm like AllDay.” Otherwise, Matt suggests attending a sampling event where all different types of vendors demonstrate their offerings.

AllDay Industry recommends minimizing the number of vendors for two main reasons:
1) Logistics of receiving multiple deliveries per day
2) Cost savings by consolidating vendors

Limiting the number of purveyors will decrease the number of overall deliveries to your establishment. Every time a delivery arrives, it needs to be received by a trusted staff member. While some restaurants leverage the early morning dishwasher to receive deliveries, others utilize members of the cooking staff, like the executive chef or sous chef. The receiver needs to check the invoice against the what has actually been delivered to clear up billing discrepancies as well as check the quality of the order. It is totally acceptable to refuse product if it is not up to a restaurant’s standards. “Be a pain” says Matt. “Once you start accepting sub-par product, the vendor will continue to send poor product your way.”

Making sure that your deliveries are correct is a major way to cut down on wasted spending. Once a delivery has been signed for, it is important that the delivery is put in storage or refrigeration in a timely matter to avoid spoilage or goods being stolen. As obvious as it sounds, poor delivery management can create waste.

Another way to keep costs in line is being aware of your vendor’s prices. Prices can vary week to week so a keen executive chef will change up the week’s specials based on fluctuating food costs or make other modifications, “As a chef, you have financial goals to meet each week. You can make easy, yet savy, swaps like changing a cut of beef in a dish to stay on budget” said Matt. It is important know the prices of competitor purveyors, especially for big ticket items or items that dominate your menu. You should be able to quickly change vendors in case of large price changes or ingredient supply issues without disrupting your business. This knowledge also provides you bargaining power with your current supplier.

Cultivating a positive relationship with your purveyors will create a beneficial partnership. For your first few orders, it will be necessary to pay cash on delivery (COD). After building trust, longer payment terms can be negotiated. Terms can range from 15 to 90 days; longer terms will ultimately help your restaurant’s cash flow—you will be able to sell some of your product before you have to pay for it. In addition to positive payment terms, a good working relationship with your vendors and sales reps can help you secure better produce, rarer product, or even alert you to upcoming price swings, allowing you to plan ahead. By consolidating your orders with a few key suppliers, you increase your overall purchasing power. Sales reps usually take care of larger customers before smaller ones, giving you more leverage.


AllDay Industry has the experience and the network to help you develop your concept from any stage of development. From finding the perfect space, hiring the right executive chef, or choosing the best produce supplier, our team will act as your primary consultant to connect you to some of the best talent in the hospitality industry. Contact us at 212.346.0606 or info@alldayindustry.com.

To learn more, reach out to Matt Bernero at mbernero@minettatavernny.com