There are many challenges associated with operating a restaurant, not the least of which is getting the things you need for daily operations. There are utensils, fixtures, appliances, dinnerware, paper goods, and countless other things that you must purchase for daily operations, and you can waste a lot of time shopping all over the place to locate them.
This problem is compounded if you are located in a smaller town or in an area where few such suppliers operate. Not only will you struggle to choose which items you want, you’ll also encounter real difficulties in getting to and from the locations that sell them.
The solution to these problems can often be online. While some people may hesitate to buy things sight unseen, there is really not a significant risk to it. Bear in mind that a good restaurant supply store will carry all the quality brands online that you’d find in any brick and mortar store, and in fact may offer a wider selection because they don’t need showroom space for everything.
As you think about how to set up and operate a restaurant with supplies bought online, consider these main areas.
Point of Sale System
Before you can open your doors, you will need a point of sale (POS) system. Without this you won’t be able to track the money coming in, leading to a whole other set of disasters. The good news is that there are POS systems that will help with more than just accounting. For example, some track inventory, provide a mobile version of the POS system, and/or connect with the cloud to ensure secure storage and 24/7 access.
While it’s always great to source things locally, you can still do very well with certain inputs by purchasing them online. The trend in consumer food purchases online reflects the improved sourcing, packing, and transport options available to all parts of the food system now, and it highlights opportunities for restaurants to expand their view of what they might also be able to source in from elsewhere.
Buying online doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing quality. You can still visit the farmers’ market or even contract with local growers to get local produce and meats, then get routine items like imported spices or heavy cream through your online provider. Having a reliable vendor both on the internet and on the farm can give you the best of both worlds in food sourcing.
Is there anything that chefs are more particular about than their utensils? Their good set of knives is something they’ve probably chosen after extensive examination and review. As such, it may have come from a manufacturer near his or her culinary school, which may not be nearby. When the time comes for a new set, local sources may not offer them and it may be necessary to shop online.
Meanwhile, the typical kitchen items can be picked up online as well. Everything from cutting boards to juicers is easily found, bought, and shipped through e-commerce. One other advantage is that working through a single vendor can permit you to track expenses more easily, compared to bouncing from store to store for various items.
Ultimately, all these foods go into the kitchen for handling all those utensils, then most of them end up getting cooked. Stoves, flattop grills, ovens, and even sinks and dishwashers play vital roles in your restaurant. You want selection, quality, and the right features when you buy them, and once again, the broader range of product offerings online will make it easier to achieve that goal.
So much time can be saved on equipment in this way. If you’ve hired in a chef who previously worked with certain equipment in a distant city, an online vendor can get you those items regardless of how far away they are sold.
A successful restaurant is all about standards. It needs to have quality products prepared by capable people using appropriate equipment. Most of that equation requires you to source things by casting a broad net, and online sources are the best place to search.