Kitchen Supplies: Should You Go Local With Ingredients?

October 10, 2018

If you own a restaurant in Little Rock, you’ve certainly heard of the trend toward going local.

 Local kitchen supplies, local ingredients, even local art as décor.

There are a lot of great reasons to buy local – your money will stay in and support your community, for example, and you can often get better customer service from a local supplier.

However when it comes to ingredients, going local is a challenge. Here are some things to consider.

Can You Maintain Your Menu Locally?

If you’re a seafood restaurant, you’ll have some challenges sourcing a lot of your food locally in Arkansas. Even common “Americana” restaurants won’t be able to get everything they need year-round.

You could choose to cook seasonally, but that involves a major shift in mindset for both your kitchen and your customers. Changing your menu frequently increases the number of kitchen supplies you need, and you may end up with inadvertent waste.

Sourcing your menu locally is a great selling point and a way to ensure fresher food. However, is it worth the tradeoff to limit your menu?

Relationships Take Time to Develop

If you do decide to go local for kitchen supplies and ingredients, you may find it hard to know where to start. Other restaurants known for local ingredients may not share their suppliers, fearing the competition will drive prices up.

Even if you know of farmers or arrange to meet some at a farmer’s market, it takes time to build up the relationships and trust it takes to rely on someone for a key menu item.

It’s important to realize that if you do decide to make this move, it won’t be an overnight change. You need to plan for the time it takes to find and get to know reliable local farmers.

You’ll Have to Educate Your Customers

You can put up a sign that says “Now using local ingredients!” and perhaps draw a few curious patrons. However, there’s a hurdle to overcome – price.

Getting things locally costs more. Smaller farms don’t have economies of scale that allow them to take lower prices, and farmers face high labor costs and other challenges.

As a result, your prices will be higher if you focus on local ingredients. As you put together the menu and list of kitchen supplies you need, prepare to explain to your customers why higher prices are justified.

Unfortunately, dollar menus have conditioned many consumers to look for food priced below cost. However, there are many patrons who are looking for good quality and sustainable practices. Focus on those customers and help them understand where the costs are coming from.

When you can show where your ingredients come from and get the importance of supporting the local economy across to customers, you may find that not only are customers willing to pay, they’re more loyal than ever.

Get the Kitchen Supplies You Need – Locally!

Not every local supplier will drive up your costs. In fact, we’ve been helping Little Rock restaurants get the kitchen supplies and equipment for many years.

Let us help you source the very best equipment for your restaurant. Contact us for quotes today!

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