How this “Chef’s Toy Store” has become both a one-stop shop and educational resource for the foodservice industry.
Even though foodservice operators can choose from among many hotel and restaurant suppliers in the greater New York metropolitan area, many restaurateurs often feel overwhelmed when picking out the right equipment—especially if they are on the brink of opening a new restaurant. That’s where E&A Supply stands out from the competition. “We are not a typical box warehouse store where foodservice operators can walk around for hours and no one talks to them—much less recommends one brand of oven over another,” points out Joel Green, vice president and general manager of Plainfield, NJ-based E&A Supply.
Founded in the 1930s by Earl Denise and later purchased by Al Green (hence the name E&A Supply) Joel’s father Al took over the business almost 40 years ago. “We started as a party supply center in 1972 and from that point eventually grew into a 100,000-square-foot supply warehouse that offers most everything a restaurant owner could possibly need for both the back of the house and front of the house,” says Green. “All totaled, we have almost 80 years of experience behind this business.” Green adds that E&A Supply offers state-of-the art equipment for both the back of the house and also has front-of-the house pieces such as glassware, tables, chairs and bar supplies. Currently about 80 percent of the company’s sales come from standard equipment, such as freezers, refrigerators, stoves, fryers and our smallwares selections.”
The company’s brand offerings are vast, ranging from AdCraft, Vulcan Blodgett, Carlisle, Hobart, Oneida, Hamilton Beach—and the list goes on. “Our entire staff is extensively trained by all these companies on various equipment and supplies. We are constantly offering kitchen demonstrations at the warehouse so they can thoroughly explain the difference in performance and energy savings. For example, a restaurant owner may choose to buy a refrigerator because it’s the cheapest, but our employees can explain to them how a higher-priced refrigerator would be a better investment because it costs less in energy usage, and is more efficient in the long term. “This would save them about 500 dollars a year over the life span of the equipment making it actually less expensive,” explains Green. The company’s knowledgeable staff makes it quick and easy to pick out the right product, with the right features and benefits at the right price. That’s why E&A Supply is coined “The Chef’s Toy Store,” Green explains.
And what if a piece of equipment breaks down? “We can ship them a piece of equipment they need within 24 hours,” answers Green. In fact, E&A Supply’s website has become a key resource for many customers because they can log on to the site 24/7 to order pieces of equipment, get answers to questions, or simply get more information on a piece of equipment. Whether it is 10pm at night or 5am in the morning, a customer-service representative will get back to them within an hour,” Green adds.
“Our main warehouse is a restocking facility and we deal with every major brand and off-brand in the restaurant industry. But even if pieces of equipment or supplies are not in stock, we can get our hands on anything very quickly,” he explains. For example, if a chef would like to get a specialized piece for a specific purpose, Green says they can point them in the right direction and ship it out ASAP. “If something blows up on Friday night we work it out so they are back in operation as quickly possible. For that reason, the company’s website has greatly enhanced our business, “Green points out. The website also has a blog with educational posts such as: Five Promotional Plan Essentials for Restaurants, Finding The Right Glass For The Right Wine, and How To Increase Business With Perceived Deals. “Educating our customers on how to manage their businesses is another differential that sets us apart,” says Green.
With E&A Supply being in business almost 80 years, how has the business changed? “Today it is all about total cost of ownership,” Green answers. “Foodservice operators analyze costs of every aspect of running a business over the long haul. “When the bottom dropped out of the economy in 2009, restaurateurs looked at things such as: how much gas will this equipment cost to operate, how much will this cost to maintain? Green notes that his staff helps with those issues by comparing brand to brand to show foodservice operators in real numbers how to save money. “We can illustrate how just one or two changes can save them thousands of dollars a year.” It is one reason the company is yearly certified. “Any business owner that wants to be in business for more than a year needs to look at the cost of ownership to succeed,” Green points out.
Another way E&A Supply helps their clientele save thousands of dollars is by assisting them with the layout of their kitchens—especially when it comes to new restaurant launches. “Working with an architect can be costly when setting up a restaurant,” explains Green, “Our staff can help layout a kitchen designed for two-line workers rather than three-line employees, thereby saving on additional wages. We also offer state-of-the-art equipment that minimizes waste and energy. In fact, we sell new dishwashers that recover steam from the previous wash cycle and use it to save energy for the next cycle. This eliminates the need for a condensation hood over the machine. All those savings add up so restaurant owners can direct those surplus funds towards other areas such as marketing their business.”
To add credibility to the company’s credentials, Green says it is a Certified Green Professional (CGP) member of the National Restaurant Association. E&A Supply also offers a wide selection of used equipment. “We go through a 20-point check system and make sure the equipment is compliant with current health department codes. The pieces are tested extensively so it is almost like getting new equipment. What’s more, all of our used equipment is backed by a 30-day warranty,” says Green. In addition, the staff is trained on how that equipment should be maintained. “Our employees are up to date on plumbing, electric, ventilation and fire codes.”
Like many companies that started small and grew, Green says E&A Supply started by servicing mom-and-pop restaurants, then expanded to corporate dining facilities, institutional foodservice, chain restaurants and now hotels and hospitality.
“We have many success stories in all segments of the foodservice business. For example, we recently partnered with Goya Foods, Towne Square Media, and put together a state-of-the-art kitchen for a Colorado concert,” notes Green. Most recently, the company partnered with the upscale Le Malt Wine Lounge located on St. George Avenue in Woodbridge, NJ. “In the kitchen, we supplied them with Blodgett, Star, True, Advance, Pitco, Voilrath and MasterBilt appliances,” says Green.
Although E&A Supply’s distribution is focused on the Northeast—New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania—it does ship across the country and internationally as well. In fact, a lot of the company’s repeat customers are restaurants that have opened overseas. “E&A Supply is truly a one-stop shop where restaurateurs can get everything they need to open a restaurant from soup to nuts. What’s more, we help our customers work smarter not harder.”
For more information, call 800-832-1369, or visit E&A Supply’s website at www.easupply.com.