Dallas restaurant scene benefits produce

The Dallas-Fort Worth metro area is home to a vibrant restaurant scene, a boon for many fresh produce suppliers.

Although many restauranteurs seek locally produced fruits and vegetables when in season, and some contract with urban micro growers and greenhouses for greens and herbs, plenty of produce still comes from shippers in California, Arizona, and even the East Coast.

The usual perishables pipeline is alive and well. “Foodservice companies are paid to bring it in, warehouse it, then redeliver it,” said Steve Ford, managing member at Dallas Direct Distributing, LLC in nearby Crandall, TX.

He sees the trend of sourcing from rooftop greenhouses as more of “an East Coast deal” that hasn’t quite caught on in the metro area.

Larry Ma, general manager at Farmers Branch, TX-based Pacific Plus International, Inc., reports that his restaurant clients, who tend to be purveyors of fast food and buffets, “always want something cheaper and better.” Given the need to keep costs low, many customers can’t really afford to shop from greenhouse suppliers, he observes.

Andy Nguyen, president of Quality Produce Distributing, LLC in Grand Prairie, TX, continues to see strong demand from restaurant clients as well, since residents in the DFW metroplex tend to have plenty of disposable income and eat out regularly.

He concurs that for restaurants competing on price with menus of lower-cost hot entrees and sides—not specialty eateries with a broad range of raw fruits and vegetables or organics—it generally isn’t worth the extra cost to source from higher priced vendors.

Another venue for restaurants to source product is the new Chef’Store from US Foods, which set up shop in DFW in 2018. The fifth of its kind, the new 47,000-plus square foot facility offers a broad range of fresh fruits and vegetables, including specialty produce, as well as meat and dairy products, cooking utensils, and restaurant equipment.

The all-in-one-stop concept offers competitive wholesale pricing and plenty of convenience, aimed primarily at independent and local restauranteurs.

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full version.