Food supplier for metro Detroit restaurants selling to the public
In the midst of business closings in the COVID-19 crisis, most employers across Michigan are closing their doors or working with severely reduced employees.
However, a Detroit grocery wholesaler is hoping to avoid closing or laying off workers after this week’s dramatic change in business. It also provides another place for people looking for food to avoid the crowds in the grocery store.
Atlas Wholesale Food Co., a major supplier to restaurants in the Detroit area and the city’s casinos, began offering its inventory to consumers this week for the first time in its history. Anyone can order 3,000 items online through the company’s website Atlaswholesalefood.com – from hot dogs to chicken to spray bottles with disinfectants. The minimum order is $ 100.
“We have to reinvent ourselves,” said CEO John Kohl after sales fell 80%.
Starting this week, individuals will be able to collect food orders from the warehouse at 5100 St. Jean near I-94 and Conner. Or they can arrange pickups from five locations near Metro Detroit that happen to be restaurant parking lots.
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“These restaurants are our customers, so we try to do business for them,” he said. Restaurants across the state have been ordered to be closed, although they can still sell groceries to take-away customers.
On Saturday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered bars, restaurants and other businesses to remain closed until April 13, extending her first executive order, which would have reopened on March 30.
On Monday, Whitmer announced a more comprehensive “stay at home” order, which from Tuesday will require all Michigandans not to do essential business in order to stay home. That doesn’t apply to Atlas employees, however, as the company is classified as an essential business, Kohl said.
“We are a crucial element in the food chain. We have a warehouse full of groceries and there are store shelves that are empty so we can help, ”he said.
The company, which sells a range of restaurant items in addition to groceries – including hand sanitizers, disinfectant cleaners, and numerous types of cleaning wipes – will take every precaution as it shifts its customer base from restaurants to individuals and families, said Kathy Roberts, insider bid manager.
“We try to avoid human contact. Not only can we open our doors to the public here, but they can also go to our online marketplace, ”said Kathy Roberts.
The company’s new “Marketplace Direct” website feature was launched on Monday evening, featuring “A safer way to get groceries – no queues, no crowds, limited human contact”.
With the restaurant industry in a tailspin and casinos closed, Atlas had to lay off most of its 35 employees if the company couldn’t develop a new business model, said salesman Manny Kotsis, who, like Kohl, is a grandson of the company’s founder.
“Our grandfather started this in Greektown in 1949,” said Kotsis. “He chose Atlas (for the company name) because it was ‘A’ in the front of the phone book, where people would find it straight away,” he said.
The company is now on the east side of Detroit in a large cold store attached to offices. Nearby is the construction of the large new Detroit Jeep plant.
The new business model, which includes weekly deliveries to drop-off points as far away as Ypsilanti, will keep the company’s delivery drivers running, he said. From Tuesday, the trucks will alternate between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the drop-off points.
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Drop-off points are: Tuesdays in the Hills City Grill parking lot, 2940 Rochester Road, Troy; On Wednesdays in the Red Olive parking lot, 49605 Grand River Ave. in Wixom; also on Wednesdays in the parking lot of pub 1281, 1281 Gratiot Ave., Clinton Township; Thursdays on the Somerset Swimming Pool property, 18525 Freemasons in Fraser; also on Thursdays in the parking lot of the Big Boy Restaurant, 2800 Washtenaw Ave., Ypsilanti. The schedule is repeated every week.
You can also collect items from the company’s warehouse at 5100 St. Jean, Detroit, every weekday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Many of the items listed on the site are loose (a 15-dozen case of extra-large AA eggs costs $ 30) while others come as single items (a 32-ounce bottle of Clorox disinfectant spray costs $ 5.99 -Dollar).
And for orders of $ 450 or more, they deliver at the time and place chosen by the customer.
With the company’s restaurant customers struggling, a portion of the company’s new sales will be donated to consumers “to help the restaurants and service workers directly affected by COVID-19,” a company press release said.
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