Who better than a chef to buy your equipment from? That’s the thinking behind the hiring of NJRE director of sales and design, and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Mike Cinosky, to run the advising and purchasing of restaurant kitchen supplies for Metro New York operations.
With the addition of Cinosky, the business – a mix of used and new products – has evolved to not only setting up but designing and the construction of kitchens, or, as he likes to put it, “Everything from soup to nuts.”
The company, currently located in Bergen County will open a second location in December in North Bergen, according to Cinosky. This location will eventually become the company’s one place of business.
Why the move to New Jersey? “The cost associated with being in New York City, where we were previously located, was too great. The cost of business was appreciably higher so we had to charge higher prices. We knew people were looking for the best equipment for the best value, and that’s what we can offer them here.”
“The company’s advantage in having a background in used equipment is in understanding the features in new equipment,” says Cinosky. “We have people who are experts in the field for refurbishing. For new equipment, we hire chefs who understand how the equipment is used. We have the technical aspect as well as the operational. We’ve used the equipment, we can help them on all levels.”
Prior to this, Cinosky owned a restaurant and was on the operations side of the business cooking and managing for over 20 years, so he knows what he’s talking about. “We purchased from NJRE and I could tell when we did, they knew what they were talking about,” he says. “It struck me that the operation as a whole was top-of-the-line. I’ve been on the other side, so this was a natural progression for me. I can help people get set up and now I have a better quality of life. I have two kids and I’m still doing what I love, have a passion for, but at the end of the day I walk away, knowing I set them up properly to succeed.”
Cinosky knows the challenges firsthand. “When people come to me and ask, ‘How else do I want to set this up?’ I think about, let’s see, what’s the minimum for volume so they can pay their bills. Then I think about Friday and Saturday night and how busy it needs to be and how efficiently the kitchen needs to run, because I’ve been doing hundreds of covers a night and I know how challenging that can be,” he says. “People appreciate that. I don’t sell things they don’t need; we’re not looking to gouge them. We want to make sure they’re coming back to us, because, if they’re successful, we’re successful. We’re doing 2nd and 3rd restaurants for people.”
In the new North Bergen operation, NJRE will have 24,000 square feet of warehouse/showroom/test kitchen/design center. “Everything under one roof,” says Cinosky. “We’ll be able to test state-of-the- art equipment. We’re putting in really great equipment so people can see what’s out there. There’s a lot of new technology coming, in combi ovens and in hoods and fryers, and we need the space to be able to teach our customer base how to use it properly.”
The new location will also include a conference room with a design team, where the drafting and modeling will be done. NJRE will also be using an “in house” architect that will be on site.
“And it’s in an urban enterprise zone, so when people come in to purchase and we’re delivering to New Jersey, we can charge 3.5% tax as opposed to 7%, a savings that’s passed on to the customer. When you’re talking $100,000-$200,000 in equipment, that’s a big difference,” he notes.
NJRE originally was in the pizzeria equipment business, but expanded out, Cinosky explains, because pizza ovens are now found in every kind of restaurant.
“Pizza is always going to be around, we’ve seen the pizza business continue to flourish, and that’s great for us because we do pizza ovens,” says Cinosky. “But now we’re seeing a new trend, wood-fired ovens. It’s the same concept in terms of pizza but we’re now seeing restaurants that don’t do any pizza. One restaurant imported a brick oven from Italy that’s wood-fired, but they don’t make pizza. They do all their breads and baked goods in there. We’re seeing the pizza oven used for different applications – bread-baking, showcased items, putting out front, even cooking mussels in there. It gives restaurants the ability now to have a signature menu. We’re seeing the evolution of cooking the way cooking was done centuries before. It’s pretty cool.”