Welcome back to the Small Business Spotlight hosted by JAISIN Insurance Solutions. The goal is to bring more awareness to businesses and entrepreneurs in the local community. That being said, I am joined here by Mark Immerman, president of Restaurant Warehouse.
Give us a little bit of background information on Restaurant Warehouse.
Restaurant Warehouse has been around since 1994. We have three locations in the South Florida area; one in West Palm Beach, one in Boca Raton, and our main one in Fort Lauderdale in Oakland Park. We have been here twenty-six years. We supply restaurant equipment and supplies to just about everybody. Everybody in the industry, certainly in the restaurant industry, knows who we are. We are very strategically placed so we service all the restaurants in those three different areas.
Amazing! Now tell us a little bit about Sharp Knife, the knife sharpening division you have at restaurants around county?
Recently, about a year-and-a-half ago, we started a division called Stay Sharp Knives. We do knife sharpening for many, many, many restaurants; we have hundreds of clients. We pick up the knives on a weekly basis, sharpen them, switch them out for sharp knives, and return them back a week later and switch them out again. It’s a very valuable service to the restaurants, because who has the time to sit and sharpen knives? Being the main tool of the trade, they have to make sure that the knives are sharp, that’s the chef’s dream to have sharp knives.
How did you start Restaurant Warehouse twenty-six years ago?
The business was started by my late partner, Bart Cotton. He passed away a few years ago. He was in this industry for many years. Prior to that, this was a new business venture that he started and I joined him in the year 2000, and has been here ever since. So this is going into my twenty-first year.
Why it is so important for you to be a one-stop shop? How does that help you beat out other competitors?
We are stocking dealers and we carry everything that you could imagine that a restaurant’s owner or chef would need. We sell small wares of every description, whatever you could want. We do knives, forks, plates, glassware; people in the restaurant industry know how much gets broken on a weekly basis! They are always replenishing and they need to get the exact same stuff they had before. We are stocking dealers, we carry it all. We also sell equipment from slicers to refrigerators and sandwich makers, sandwich prep tables, and everything you could imagine, so we are really a one-stop shop, we supply everything that they could need.
So can any sized restaurant or bar utilize Restaurant Warehouse?
Yes of course, we have clients of chains to mom and pop’s and everyone in between.
Have you seen a difference with the relationship with mom and pop’s shops and restaurants during COVID?
Everybody had to adapt to the new way of life. The seating is limited, so people are doing a lot of takeouts. We have seen very few restaurants fail through this time. Everybody has adapted to the situation and we are all making lemonades out of the lemons; everybody has been hit. It has not been an easy time for anybody, but there is a lot to be said for good restaurants out there, which most restaurants are pretty decent, otherwise they wouldn’t be in business.
Do you have any advice to any restaurant or bar owners who are feeling a little discouraged or uncertain right now in these crazy times?
Just hang in there, we have been nine months [at time of interview] through this. It has been very difficult for a lot of people, but I think we will get through this season. It wouldn’t be a normal season, because there is nothing normal about trading patterns this year, but I think this is going to last a while. I also think that in next four months, we will start seeing a big change in people’s dining out habits. I think the people will start feeling more comfortable to go out and that is when things will take a big turn for the whole restaurant industry, including us.
Do people have to go into your store, or can they shop online for what they need?
We do have an online presence, but really it’s more for just to make contact. We encourage people to come into the store; we have everything that they can touch and feel and take with them. We carry huge inventories in all three stores, so we really are that one-stop shop. They can come, take what they want, and if we don’t have it, we can get it very quickly.
Why JAISIN Insurance Solutions?
Jason was a friend of my business partner, Steve Kesten. He came in, gave us a quotation to do some insurance work, and the quote he gave us was really much more comprehensive than what we were used to. He really took the time and the trouble to make sure that we were adequately covered in all of the aspects that we needed, saved us quite a bit of money actually on some things. We just really enjoy working with him, nothing, nothing is too much trouble for him. We can get him with a click of a button, you can go directly to him, he answers the phone, you don’t have to wait. If he is on a call, he calls straight back, which is really a very good trait for an insurance broker to have.