“We sell to a lot of delicatessens. You have delicatessens in Philly, right?”
Larry Cohen, the chief operating officer of Restaurant Depot, is describing his typical customer — the corner pizza shop, the local catering hall, the non-profit that holds events, the neighborhood bagel shop. The delicatessen.
Yes, Cohen is assured, we have delicatessens in Philly — even one called, uh, Delicatessen — we just usually call them hoagie shops. No, not sub shops.
Restaurant Depot, the Maspeth, NY-born chain of kitchen equipment and food suppliers, has 99 locations nationwide, including one at 5002 Ridge Ave. The Manayunk location, Cohen said, was among the first half-dozen Restaurant Depots, and the chain is now part of the same company that operates Jetro Cash and Carry warehouses.
In the next few months, the warehouse store will move from the leased Manayunk site to a new standalone store at 2950 Roberts Ave., adjacent to the Bakers Centre shopping plaza now under construction at the old Tastykake site. Cohen said his company bought their parcel independent of the larger project, which is anchored by a Brown’s Shop-Rite, but it is being marketed along with the whole plan and there is shared access to the site.
The move will make the Restaurant Depot more visible, as the building will be at street level, and definitely more accessible. The Manayunk location is accessed only by a narrow, sloping driveway just off the already-complicated intersection where Ridge Avenue and Main Street dovetail.
The move will also almost double the location’s size, from 40,000 to 73,000 square feet and ideally, get customers in and out faster, said Chris McKendry, branch manager of the Manayunk site. The Roberts Avenue store will also allow for more on-site storage, allowing staff to more quickly restock.
“Every minute our customers are here is a minute they’re away from their business, and they’re thinking about the time they waste trying to get in and out of here,” McKendry said Thursday.
Thursday is the biggest day of the week for Restaurant Depot, with the weekend ahead, and the Ridge Avenue site turns into a tangle of panel trucks and vans, workers moving pallets of potatoes and boxed desserts and salsa, and shoppers pulling “UBoats” — rolling trolleys with side rails that look like an upside-down U — loaded with supplies.
McKendry said the Manayunk location draws business customers not only from Northwest Philadelphia, but the nearby Montgomery County suburbs and as far north as the Allentown area. The move to Roberts Avenue will keep them close enough to the Schuylkill Expressway and Roosevelt Boulevard to be convenient to customer traffic and supply delivery, he said.
The Manayunk location has about 60 employees, and about 70 percent of them take public transit to work, McKendry said. And even with the Wissahickon Transfer Center almost next door, the move to Allegheny West will mean access to more bus lines, since many lines that went through that part of Ridge Avenue have been cut, he said.
“We used to have a night crew and the guys had to be out of there at a certain time to get the last buses of the night,” he said.
McKendry said the plan is for Restaurant Depot to be operating in its new space by about July 1. The store’s layout and offerings will be similar to another recently opened location in Langhorne.
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