If the uncertainty created by the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that relationships are everything. They’re the backbone upon which we can support ourselves and grow.
Restaurants and restaurant managers aren’t exempt from the need to build solid relationships. The impacts of the pandemic have highlighted the critical need for solid, sustainable restaurant-supplier relations.
When lead times on food deliveries skyrocketed and suppliers had to turn restaurants away because of shortages in their supply chain, a strong supplier relationship became a hot commodity.
Alex Brounstein from Grindhouse Burgers spoke about the importance of his supplier relationships during the pandemic.
“French fries, frankly, are another huge [item] for us, so we picked a big national company [as a supplier] and a product we like and we made sure to lock in a good price for ourselves because we use so much of it,” he said. “You know, we don't really lock in prices for things, but we try to do it for beef and french fries because that's all we can really do it for.”
Brounstein added that his suppliers worried they’d lose money if they sold to him last July and August, when shortages were extreme.
In the end, they were able to work out a deal based on their longstanding relationship.
National ingredient shortages coupled with an absence of truck drivers in the market contributed to significant delivery delays or a lack of certain foods on store shelves. Not only were supplier relations critical during this time, but restaurants had to face yet another challenge: getting creative with their menus.
Given that various commodity items, particularly beef, were in short supply, cooks had to rethink their recipes and consider how they could do more with less.
Beef is paramount at Grindhouse, but the team there took what they could get. Brounstein said, “I would call [the supplier] and say, ‘I need this many pounds.’ And they were taking the trimmings left over from steaks and grinding them and bringing them to me the next day, which actually tastes great. But once you grind meat, it can go bad really quick. And when you grind dry-aged meat, it can go bad even quicker because it's been exposed to the elements.”