Chefs often tout the local farmers supplying their kitchens, but the backbone of restaurant supplies are wholesale distributors (who can also act as middlemen between the smaller producers and kitchens). These wholesalers sell produce, meat, seafood, dairy, and much more at affordable bulk prices. And as restaurants are closing or trimming down, many are now offering direct-to-consumer home delivery or pickup to stay afloat.
So why go wholesale? It’s a different supply chain than the grocery store, so you may be able to snag coveted items like yeast or sanitizer—not to mention restaurant-quality ingredients such as wild branzino or dry-aged beef. Also, if you have the space to buy in bulk like a restaurant, prices can be gentler than retail. Plus, many offer free delivery and contact-free pickup.
Coastal Sunbelt Produce
Pickup at 9001 Whiskey Bottom Rd, Laurel, MD; Friday drop-offs in Leesburg and Baltimore
This dairy and produce distributor sells a variety of packages out of its warehouse in Laurel, Maryland with special hours for seniors and contact-free, drive-in pickup for all. The options look generous for the price—a $12 dairy package comes with a dozen eggs, pound of butter, and half-gallon of milk, while a $25 “rainbow fruit” box is loaded with pineapple, mango, citrus, berries, melons, and more. Sunbelt also has Friday drop-offs in Leesburg and Baltimore.
Pickup at various “meet the truck” locations in DC, MD, and VA; delivery in select locations
Home cooks now have access to the same local and/or sustainable seafood favored by chefs from this Ivy City distributor. In addition to a bounty of fish and shellfish—everything from salmon and shrimp to Maryland crab and lobster—they also carry Ivy City Smokehouse products and Cucina Della Cucina pastas. Pickup is currently offered at 15 locations on specific days, or $15 delivery in select zip codes. Also note there’s a $50 order minimum.
Delivery to DC, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac, and Takoma Park
One of the biggest regional wholesalers just started offering delivery in the DC area. There’s a minimum delivery order of $250 and most items are sold in bulk, so you have to have plenty of space in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. On the plus side, this is a one stop shop—everything from fresh meats, seafood, and produce to spices and cleaning supplies—and you can stock up for less than average retail prices.
Delivery in DC, MD, and VA; pickup at 5001 Forbes Blvd, Suite D, Lanham, MD
The Dionisopoulos family-owned wholesaler in Lanham, Maryland opened an online grocery with local and regional produce, cleaning supplies, pantry items, pastas, and seafood. You’ll also find a selection of Greek specialty items like dried beans, olive oils, and cheeses. They’re partnering with Choco Market, a new grocery platform that connects wholesalers with home buyers.
The fine and specialty meat purveyor isn’t new to the delivery or grocery game, but it’s worth noting they—like everyone else—are shifting more attention to home cooking. The company, favored by the Michelin set, is a go-to for game, truffles, and foie, though you’ll also find more practical home ingredients like pork, steaks, and chicken. Plus: there’s currently a 15-percent off spring sale.
Keany Produce & Gourmet
Curbside pickup in DC, MD, and VA
The popular wholesaler is offering Keany Curbside, a pickup service at a variety of locations across the region. You can pick between boxes of fruit, vegetables (or a mix of both), dairy, and organic produce. You get a generous amount for wholesale prices, which range between $12 for dairy and $25 for big bundles of fruits or veggies.
Little Wild Things
DC delivery of pickup at 906 Bladensburg Rd., NE
Part urban farm, part wholesaler, part farmers market staple, this microgreens and shoots purveyor does a little of everything. They’re currently offering free delivery in DC on Wednesdays with a $25 minimum order as well as pickup at the farm. The site also provides recipe ideas and there’s a virtual grow-your-own micro greens class.