Small time operation that serves a local community of 20,000 people. I'm not placing huge inventory orders of all of my ingredients from one distributor.
This is a hypothetical scenario, but I would appreciate some serious comments.
What's the basic distance radius for distribution companies that I can go off of that will not cost a fortune to get delivered? I am located between Galesburg, IL and Quincy, IL and just about 2 hours away from Springfield, IL and Peoria, IL - but do I have other options besides these cities? St. Louis, MO is only 3 hours away, and Chicago or Des Moines, IA is 4 hours away.
Are there strict minimum requirements per distributor for delivery of food (is it cost or weight associated typically?)
I would like to get all of my sauces and vegetables from one distributor, my meats from another, and my sauces from somebody else.*
*this is a worst case situation but I want to purchase the best tasting products that I can, and if one distributor is better than the next I would want to go with them. For instance ABC-COMPANY has great meats but low-quality cheese, 123-COMPANY has great sauces & vegetables, and @@@-COMPANY has the best tasting cheese I've ever had....
I want hands down the best tasting pizza sauce money can buy that I can get delivered. Who can make a recommendation for me?
Anyone know of a single distributor that is renown for getting it all done right the first time so the potential to save money on delivery is there?
I almost want to go into a local butcher shop to see if they could supply a customer like me with meats. Maybe pre-cook them and then freeze the meat, has anyone ever heard of anything like this? How would you determine an expiration date and get past the health department?
Another idea I had was to buffalo wings. At the chain restaurant I worked at, they were un-sauced, pre-cooked, and frozen solid prior to delivery. Where can I find something like this, anyone know of any places doing this? The second part to this vision is to have 4-5 of the best consumer rated BBQ & Hot sauces there are and just have pump stations to dispense the sauce onto the wings after they come out of the oven.
The basic ingredients that I am going to need supplied are:
Italian sausage, pepperoni, grilled or breaded chicken, thick-cut ham, spicy salami, applewood bacon, green/red bell peppers, red/yellow onion, green/black olives, mushrooms, pineapple.
Other ingredients that I am going to need will be a garlic/olive oil/butter spread, Ranch & bleu-cheese salad dressing (once again, best consumer rated) and a white pizza sauce (like garlic alfredo)
Should I be looking for just one distributor, or should I want to divide the needs?
I would appreciate any help to these questions and thank you in advance.
There are others that are extremely qualified to answer better than I, but I will give it a shot, since I've been in one form of food business or another since birth. I've also worked at pizza places and currently as an inspector with the USDA.
I think your most important tool is the internet. Check for wholesale distributors in your "area", maybe 50 -75 mile radius(but don't limit it just to that). Every company is different. If you ordered a great amount then delivery isn't too much of an issue. If it is, then the delivery charge may be up. Although in Chicago, I don't even think that most places charge for delivery. That is considered in the price of the supplies.
When I worked at Papa Del's they sent a truck to Chicago once or twice a week for supplies, since they felt the supplies were superior and probably couldn't get delivery all that way. So, picking up is one option, since you probably won't be ordering more than a van full anyway.
As for sauces, that's tricky. There are TONS of "basic" sauces that you can ever get at a Gordon's Food Service. I know one place that mixes half Pastorelli Pizza sauce and half tomato puree. You can also try to replicate one of your favorite sauces. Or buy cans of puree and a good spice mix (Penzey's, for example). It will take some research and spending on your part. I would stay away from tomato pastes and sauces, but that's up to you.
BIG distributors like Sysco will lure you in with great meat prices, but then get you on canned prices. It's all about one -stop shopping with them. It's convenient, but quality and price are suspect. IMHO,with cheeses, I would at least get a blend of whole milk mozzarella with either provolone or part-skim. Part skim may be cheaper, but it suffers in taste from the lack of fat. This ain't health food.
Another thing to consider is restaurant supply stores or Sam's or Gordon's. They sell restaurant size supplies at good prices---even those chicken wings you mentioned.
One distributor is fine if you like the products. Like I said, YOU picking supplies up is another option, then you can go wherever you want. However, that is time and money. As for local butchers, that is a good idea, but I definitely wouldn't pre-cook anything and then freeze it. Also, again, you could buy the meat in ground form, or trimmings, or shoulders,etc. and make sausage yourself. Again, that requires equipment and time.A local place here makes theirs fresh daily, and it's pretty damn good. It takes time to figure how much you need on a daily basis, so waste is minimal.
Bottom line is research and taste, and write things down. A pros and cons list may seem simple, but it is amazing for almost anything.
I hope this kinda helps. Any questions, let me know.