While most of San Francisco is sound asleep two companies are hard at work together, servicing customers, taking orders, cycling pallets in and out of cash and carry warehouses, and making deliveries to every kind of independent foodservice business imaginable. At a glance, Restaurant Depot, a decades-old, multi-billion dollar cash-and-carry chain, and Cheetah, a three-year-old startup, make unlikely allies. On closer inspection, however, their collaboration is both pragmatic, and based on natural affinity.
In an industry dominated by massive broadliners like Sysco and US Foods, Restaurant Depot has succeeded by selling on a cash and carry basis almost exclusively to small, independent restaurants and other professional kitchens. Their model is members only, but there are no membership fees or minimum orders. By focusing on independent restaurants and servicing all orders in-store, they’ve kept overhead low, while striving to give small businesses the same purchasing power as big ones.
Cheetah, cofounded by serial entrepreneur Na’ama Moran, provides a mobile app for purchasing wholesale supplies and tracking past orders, with same or next-day delivery. Crucially, customers can view real-time wholesale prices, with no markup - Cheetah charges only for deliveries.
Cheetah has collaborated with Restaurant Depot, delivering products from their stores to thousands of restaurant customers in the Bay Area (San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose), Los Angeles, Anaheim, Seattle and Dallas. By focusing solely on local businesses, Cheetah acts as force multiplier for Restaurant Depot’s fundamental value proposition: top-quality products, sold at peak freshness, for unbeatable prices.=
Apart from their relative sizes and ages, Restaurant Depot and Cheetah have much in common. Both companies’ management pride themselves on a hands-on, owner/operator ethic and intense command of the details of the business. It’s not unusual to catch senior management and owners walking the warehouse floor. For Moran, solidarity with small business owners and the foodservice community comes from having grown up on her family’s farm in Israel. Following a brief stint in finance, she has been an entrepreneur her entire career. For the past several years, Moran has focused on streamlining back-of-the-house operations for local restaurants and small businesses, spending hundreds of hours alongside customers in their day to day operations.
Moran now sees logistics as the industry’s biggest challenge - and opportunity. In the face of growing consolidation and operational scale, independent operators are increasingly hard-pressed to meet the minimum orders imposed by the biggest distributors. Furthermore, local delivery has historically been fragmented, expensive, and low-tech. Her belief is that the answer lies in effective collaboration. Independents have had a dedicated provider for 40+ years in Restaurant Depot. Cheetah simply provides the same customer focus and price transparency for the delivery piece of the equation. Many customers continue to shop cash and carry for various reasons, but when delivery makes sense, Cheetah provides an elegant solution. Together, Restaurant Depot and Cheetah are creating a modern, frictionless experience that empowers restaurants to focus their time and energy on doing what they do best.
News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.