The COVID-19 has forced the retail industry into a state of ongoing improvisation, and further evidence of that comes from Restaurant Depot.
Typically a members-only wholesale operation that serve restaurants, pubs and similar businesses, Restaurant Depot has opened its doors during the outbreak to individual consumers who don’t have a problem buying food items in bulk. “Since the market typically supplies restaurants, nothing on the shelves comes in small portions,” reads one recent report from WTOP.com in the Washington, D.C., area about the change. “A flyer for the Alexandria, Virginia, store advertises 15 pounds of chicken wings, 5 pounds of Greek yogurt and a case of corn on the cob, for example.”
No further details about the change were immediately available from Restaurant Depot. But as news spread about the company’s locations opening up to non-member shoppers across the U.S. – Restaurant Depot operates more than 130 locations in more than 30 states – advice quickly popped up around the web about how to make the most of this pandemic opportunity, and how to best shop at the chain’s stores. “While the typical home chef may not have use for a 10-pound tube of ground beef, most of the seafood is sold based on how much you want,” reads one such entry from Chicago.Eater.com. “I buy the regularly available fresh U.S. Gulf shrimp more than any item. Note: The seafood department has started pre-packaging for safety reasons.”
The pandemic has blurred other lines in the larger food industry. For instance, SpartanNash is giving a hand to restaurants in Michigan that have been closed except for takeout and delivery. Customers of the company's Family Fare, D&W Fresh Market, Forest Hills Foods, and Ada Fresh Market banners will now find heat-and-eat meals from eight independent eateries in the deli departments and meal solution cases. "This project to help local restaurants really came together quickly," said Dan Estelle, director of meat and seafood at SpartanNash in a video featuring the company's new foodservice partnerships. "SpartanNash provided a team to make this come to life, including our quality assurance team, food safety, labeling [and] merchandising, amongst many others."
Meanwhile, some restaurants are acting more like grocers during the ongoing outbreak. For instance, selected U.S. Denny’s diners are selling Make-at-Home Meal Kits that include all of the ingredients for a family meal with easy preparation instructions. The kits sell for $12.99 and up and can include breakfast or lunch and dinner options.