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Equippers News

Restaurant supplier comes to Metro area (The Detroit News)


Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Local spotlight

Restaurant supplier comes to Metro area

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David Kelly, Marketing Director

Ohio company sells wares to businesses and individual shoppers from new Southfield location.

Alexa Stanard / Special to The Detroit News

SOUTHFIELD -- Columbus, Ohio restaurant-supply company Restaurant Equippers Warehouse Store has opened its doors in its first expansion in its 40-year history.

The company opened its 36,000-square-foot storefront on Greenfield, creating 16 new jobs and offering individually owned restaurants in Metro Detroit, the company's second-largest market, a convenient all-in-one option for supplies.

"I was so excited when I first looked at the market," said store manager John Eberhart. "I can drive down every street and see our customers. There aren't a lot of chains here."

The company started as a mom-and-pop supply house serving local businesses in Columbus. It now sends out two million catalogs a year, runs a 170,000-square-foot distribution center in Ohio and ships to all 48 contiguous states. Restaurant Equippers declined to discuss its revenues.

The store's size and range of equipment is unusual in the industry, Eberhart said. A restaurant owner could purchase all items needed to outfit a new business and walk away with them that day, whereas buying groups, which typically supply chains, require lead time. The company's primary customers are individual restaurant owners, though it also supplies churches, schools and fraternal organizations.

"Our customers need our product right away," Eberhart said. "If they need to replace something or upgrade, they know they can come in and get it."

Restaurant Equippers also prides itself on the expertise of its staff, many of whom are drawn from the restaurant industry. Retail workers do not earn commission to emphasize service over hard sales, and they receive several weeks of training before they can take the floor.

Its extensive supplies draws customers from around the country, Eberhart said, some of whom bring moving trucks from as far as Florida. Ed Zull, owner of Pete's Coney Island in Clarkston and Pete's Coney Island II in Orion, used to drive to Columbus to buy goods for his business.

"When they moved here, it was just perfect for us," Zull said. "I can go there and actually look at [an item] rather than look at it in a book. I haven't found anything I haven't been able to get from them. That's very important, because a lot of times we don't know we need something until we need it. They've done their homework knowing what to have on hand."

The store on Greenfield is also open to the public for regular retail business and offers plenty of goods suitable for home kitchens. Its size allows it to offer many well-known product lines like Teflon at a bargain. Eberhart said the store's prices can be as low as half those at consumer home-goods stores.

Restaurant Equippers plans to open other storefronts around the country, Eberhart said. The company also recently launched a revamped Web site that offers online shopping.


Alexa Stanard is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.

Stanard, Alexa. "Restaurant supplier comes to Metro area." DetroitNews.com. Detroit News, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2007.