/ Rusty Blazenhoff / 2 pm Mon, Apr 13 2020
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  • Wholesale restaurant supply chain opens to the public for the first time — I left with TP, milk, and more (photos/tips)

    Wholesale restaurant supply chain opens to the public for the first time — I left with TP, milk, and more (photos/tips)

    For the first time in its 40-year history, Restaurant Depot has opened their doors to the public.

    The wholesale food service supplier has 135 locations in the United States and it just so happens there is one half a mile away from me. I have long wanted to check out, so, after hearing the news on Thursday night, I was in line first thing Friday morning. The promise of in-stock toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and food -- at wholesale prices -- was just too tempting. Here's some of what I saw in my nearly two-hour shopping excursion.

    Ok, first, the warehouse is MASSIVE. And it's full of stuff I've never seen sold anywhere else. It makes Costco look like amateur hour.

    No, really. These are WHOLE GOAT CARCASSES:

    And a freezer case full of COD LOINS (which I later learned are the "filet mignon" of cod fish):

    If you need a pallet of Medjool dates, this place has your back:

    Or maybe "Crab Meat Seafood Specialties" are more your jam:

    A vat of Bubble Gum Flavored Sno-Cone syrup? No problem!

    Did you know Chinese food containers were called "Food Pails" in the industry? Neither did I:

    Here's a list of some of the more everyday items *I* left with, and what they cost:

    -- 25 lbs. of flour for $7.38
    -- Enough Clabber Girl baking powder to start a bakery $10.65
    -- Two gallons of whole milk for $6.26
    -- Five lbs. of fancy shredded jack and cheddar cheese (enchiladas, yo) for $12.40
    -- Three lbs. of unsalted butter for $5.84
    -- 36 rolls of two-ply "bath tissue" for $21.34
    -- A case of 24 cans of evaporated milk for $18.26 (I use this in my morning coffee)
    -- A gallon of pepperoncinis (don't ask) for $4.93
    -- 24 cans of lemon-flavored La Croix for $10.28
    -- Red bell

    TOTAL SPENT: Everything in the cart in the lead image came to $149.92.

    Some other observations:

    I wanted to buy some deli meat. The prices were so good. But, I like my cold cuts shaved, so I'd first need to buy a home deli slicer.

    The pasta shelves at my local grocery store are still barren but there's plenty of it to be had HERE:

    And, jeez! There's so much CHEESE:

    The art on these Tomato Magic cans made me so happy (and note the "don't Spiderman the shelves" sign):

    Jungle Party!

    Ice cream cone party!

    Corn syrup party!

    Beet and radish party -- not!

    If you go (and you should):

    1. Before you get there, make a list of what you need. Think about what recipes you want to make, how much toilet paper you need, that sort of thing. Be realistic about quantities, esp. in regards to perishables. It's no bargain if it spoils and goes to waste.

    2. Bring a jacket or sweater. There is an enormous wing of the warehouse that is refrigerated. You won't want to spend much time in there without wearing something warm. And this is where you'll find all the meat, dairy, and veggies. Their borrow-able jackets are not available:

    3. Grab one of their carts from the parking lot. They look like rugged, beat-up bellman's carts.

    4. Prepare to wait in line to get inside. I waited about 25 minutes. At the Oakland location, they allowed about 10 people in at a time.

    5. When you do get inside, first go to the front desk for a free day pass. You'll need to show your ID.

    6. Get the essentials you need, and more! There are no returns, so choose wisely.

    7. Take advantage of this while you can. I can't imagine it will be open to the public after the shelter-in-place mandate is lifted.

    Oh yeah, it's a restaurant supply store, so you won't find much in the way of home staples like, say, cereals.

    photos by Rusty Blazenhoff

    Thanks, Andy!

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