Restaurants and cooking enthusiasts will have a new place to shop next week in Columbia.
U.S. Foods will open its Chef’Store at 655 St. Andrews Road Thursday, offering a range of bulk foods and restaurant supplies, as well as appliances and cookware of restaurant quality.
The Chef’Store is only the third that U.S. Foods has opened nationwide; the others are in Charlotte and Oklahoma City. The company’s chief business is to deliver food and supplies directly to restaurants. The new concept store is a way for restaurants, caterers and party throwers to get what they need even when a delivery is not scheduled, store manager Shane Smith said.
A restaurant that runs out of ketchup or a pizza joint that runs out of pizza boxes, for example, could restock at the store so it can fill customer orders without having to wait for a shipment. If they can’t find an item, they can order for pick-up at the store the next day through its “Endless Aisle” program.
The Chef’Store also is a spot where those who love to cook can shop for restaurant-grade knives, pans and chafing dishes. “A lot of what you can get here is what restaurants buy,” Smith said.
The store has more than 4,500 items – from 50-pound bags of prewashed pinto beans to NSF-certified freezers. Much like a warehouse club, the store sells Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing and Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce by the gallon.
But unlike a warehouse club, “there are no membership fees,” Smith said.
The 39,000-square-foot store also carries its own exclusive store-brand items and a range of ethnic cuisine items, including halal meats, meats permissible for Muslim consumption.
Chef’Store has a large frozen section and carries restaurant disposables, including plates and toilet paper.
It also features a large walk-in refrigerated section that runs the length of the store, where fresh meats, dairy products and fresh vegetables are stored. Customers will be able to put on special insulated jackets to shop inside the cold section.
Through its “Stay Cool” food-safety program, the store provides complimentary frozen-gel packs with purchases and sells cooler bags.
The store, which employs 30, will open to the public at 7 a.m. Thursday after a “ribbon-chopping” ceremony Wednesday.