Skip to content

Restaurant Vendors: Three things new restaurants should look for

When opening a restaurant, there are a plethora of hoops to jump through. From finding and renovating your storefront, developing the menu, and complying with local legal ordinances, you will have a lot on your plate (pardon our pun). You may even be so busy that you forget one of the essential parts of your opening scheme: selecting the right inventory provider! After all, what’s a restaurant without food?


In your haste to cover all your bases in time for the grand opening, keep in mind that choosing the right restaurant vendor may be more involved than it seems. To take the stress out of this vital decision, Therma° created this guide to help you through the process. Read on to check out our list of what to look for when selecting restaurant vendors.

1) Locally sourced produce 

The restaurant industry has come a long way over the preceding decades, with consumers now preferring to dine at businesses that share their values. It should be no surprise that 70% of restaurant operators report that their customers are more interested in locally sourced items than two years earlier.


Relying on vendors that source locally grown produce has the added benefit of shortening the distribution distance from farm to table. A shorter distance during distribution reduces the use of jet fuel and diesel.


By choosing a vendor that sources local produce, customers can take pride in knowing that their dining choices can help make a difference for their community and the world at large. It can also help in increasing the volume of customers in your business. 


Locally sourced produce can help provide an exciting angle to market your restaurant. Given the impact of global issues at the dinner table today, choosing a vendor that provides the produce you need with the values your customers look for can be a massive difference-maker.

2) Samples and references 

The public’s interest in local produce. However, they don’t need to nurture a business relationship with the small businesses who distribute those items, and you do. 


Small scale restaurant vendors are just that, small. That means they may not have the staff or inventory to accommodate your needs. That’s why it’s vital to verify potential suppliers before signing a contract.


In order to verify the legitimacy of a potential vendor, ask for references of current or past customers. Former customers should give you a sense of what a sustained relationship with the vendor will be, as well as what their limitations are. Current customers should be able to give you a sense of what to expect from the supplier in question. Make sure to ask about their reliability and the quality of their food. 


Another addition to your due diligence should be sampling the supplier’s inventory. If they are a comprehensive supplier make sure to try all their different categories of items, from meats and seafood to fruits and vegetables. 


Taking a deeper dive into their quality of partnerships and their stock should give an idea of what to expect from the relationship going forward.

3) Scalability 

It’s challenging to get a restaurant off the ground. It’s a fact that 17% of restaurants go out of business within their first year of operation. These rates are on par with many other businesses within the service industry. Those who can weather the first year's storm can look forward to a long and profitable lifespan. That’s why it's important to ensure your vendors can scale as you grow. 


To determine if your supplier can scale, make sure to inquire about the specifics of where and how they source their food. Do they have a farm that can accommodate large orders during certain seasons? Is there an additional wait time to get large shipments of certain items? 


These questions are important to ask yourself because when crises occur during restaurant service, they could have repercussions throughout your entire operation. Missing items can also dissuade customers from patronizing your business as well. Review restaurants like yelp give potential customers up-to-the-minute information. If a customer becomes displeased that you lack an item normally found on the menu, their negative impression and review could hurt your reputation.

Balancing size vs. quality in restaurant vendors

When balancing restaurant vendor choices you want to find a happy medium. You’ll want a provider large enough to cover order changes and increases on short notice but small enough that they can deliver the organic and craft products your customers love. To get the best outcome when searching for a restaurant vendor, follow our tips and be honest with yourself about what you need and essential to your customers. That way, you can make an informed decision that keeps your customers happy and your business running smoothly.

About Therma°

Therma° is a San Francisco-based restaurant tech company that builds tools for the foodservice industry to prevent inventory waste, mitigate equipment breakdowns, and reduce electricity consumption while saving our customers $15,000 per year. Want to see how Therma° can help help your business succeed? Click below to try Therma° today.