Chattanooga-area foodies can find four restaurant supply stores that also cater to residential customers.
The first in town, Chattanooga Restaurant Supply, was started as a food distribution co-op in 1948 by six restaurant owners. It has since grown to more than 100 member owners, says General Manager Bobbie Swearingen.
"It's really a cool concept that the restaurant owners are really the owners (of the supply store). We work for them," she says of the store's staff.
Chattanooga Restaurant Supply's member restaurants can be found all around the region, from Blue Ridge, Chatsworth and Ellijay in Northwest Georgia to Athens, Dunlap and Copperhill in Southeast Tennessee to countless cities in between.
At a glance
— Chattanooga Restaurant Supply's Cash & Carry Store is at 822 E. 11th St. Hours are 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Learn more at chattrestsupply.com.
— Gordon Food Service Store is at 1817 Broad St., Suite 117. Hours are 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Learn more at gfsstore.com/locations/chattanooga.
— Supreme Restaurant Equipment has two area locations. The Ooltewah location, at 7917 Old Lee Highway, is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday. The North Georgia location, at 401 E. Morris St. in Dalton, is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday. Learn more at supremerestaurantequipment.com.
"We do about a 100-mile radius," Swearingen says.
A Cash & Carry Store is open Monday through Friday at the East 11th Street headquarters for residential customers to peruse the assortment of hot and cold foods, paper supplies and small wares.
"We don't have everything we carry on the shelves. We don't have room to put it all out," Swearingen says. "But you can buy anything you want. You just have to ask at the counter."
Likewise, the Gordon Food Service Store, which opened on Broad Street in October of 2021, operates like a traditional grocery for residential customers while also serving a wholesale clientele. It is one of more than 175 stores the privately held company operates in the U.S. and Canada.
Manager Jennifer Fernandez says customer service is her top priority for the Chattanooga store. For example, customers will find products in multiple sizes, such as cheese sold in 8-ounce to 5-pound bags.
"We try to cater to all walks of life," she says.
Walk-in customers will also find an array of spices, baked goods, frozen foods and deli offerings, as well as smaller equipment, such as chef's knives and aprons. Other items are as close as the catalog.
"If you don't see it on the shelf, we'll do everything we can to get it ordered for you," she says.
The store is known for its hot bar, with fried chicken a top seller, Fernandez says. She's working on adding wings and a sauce sampler to the mix.
"You can come in, grab something quick and be on your way," she says.
For customers who need equipment but not groceries, there's Supreme Restaurant Equipment, which has locations in Ooltewah and Dalton, Georgia.
"We're definitely our own niche," says owner Matt Hancock. "We don't do food or paper goods."
Commercial kitchens are the target market, but the 12,000-square-foot warehouse in Ooltewah also has a showroom open Monday through Friday for any customer.
"Most of our residential people are looking for small wares, the smaller cooking utensils and vessels — pots, pans, silverware, plates. You can come in and view that selection and purchase it at the counter," he says.
Supreme covers about a 150-mile radius around Chattanooga, but "we go where our customers take us," Hancock says.
An existing account with a Chattanooga-based assisted-living company has provided work in other states as well. Hancock, who bought the company in May 2022, says trucks deliver to customers in Indiana, Kentucky, Florida and upper East Tennessee, as well as around the tri-state.
Supreme also offers project management for designing and building commercial kitchens, often for church clients.
"Sometimes they don't know what they need or the lingo to keep the process moving," Hancock says. "We can handle all of that."
Contact Lisa Denton at [email protected] or 423-757-6281.