Last spring, Restaurant Depot locations across the nation opened up their doors to the public for the first time. While normally membership cards and shopping privileges are exclusive to owners of restaurants, caterers, and foodservice distributors, the pandemic prompted the company to allow everyday citizens to wander their packed aisles. Full to the ceiling with bulk buys of almost every food imaginable, it's a panic-buying foodie's dream.
But if you find this restaurateurs' paradise intimidating, you're not alone. Just because it's open to the public doesn't mean there aren't rules that the average grocery shopper is unaware of. Due to this, and our love of a good bulk deal, we've rounded up the must-know details before your first visit to Restaurant Depot.
To shop at Restaurant Depot, you either need to be a member (which is available to food professionals only) or sign in as a guest. To do this, simply walk up to the front desk at the entrance of your Restaurant Depot location, and tell them you need a guest pass. They'll print you up a one-time use card, which allows you to check out once you're done shopping.
The front desk is also a great place to ask questions about product locations, since most Restaurant Depot employees you see in the aisles are too busy for questions while operating forklifts and other machinery.
Carts and Bags
You won't see a regular grocery cart in a Restaurant Depot. Due to the large nature of the bulky buys, they only provide flat utility carts, which can sometimes be a struggle to navigate with. You will occasionally spot a customer who has brought in their own rolling grocery basket, so don't hesitate to pack one if you've got one available to you.
When checking out, the cashier will simply scan all of your products and send you on your way. There are no bags or boxes for packaging up your buys, meaning you'll have to load up your trunk with reusable grocery bags if that's a must-have for you. Thankfully, most of the bulk items are well-packaged in boxes or containers that don't require the protection of a grocery bag for safe passage.
Braving the Fridge
If you're planning on going into the refrigerated or frozen areas, it's best to bring along a heavy coat. When you first walk in, it may seem bearable; after a few minutes, however, you'll have a hard time navigating the store with frozen fingers and chattering teeth. Some locations provide jackets for shoppers, but during the pandemic, it's a good idea to bring your own.
Going Beyond Groceries
While you may be going to Restaurant Depot for the bulk-sized ingredients, it's worth exploring the rest of the store to see their equipment offerings. You can find everything from large appliances to tiny whisks in this magical-feeling section of the store.
Get budget-friendly mixing bowls, serving utensils, and storage containers. You can even purchase janitorial supplies, like paper towels, trash bags, and cleaning solutions for rock bottom prices.