Smart Foodservice Warehouse Store in Evergreen will hold its grand opening from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today.
The discount warehouse chain that caters primarily to restaurant owners moved into the old Office Max building in July. Since then, the company has completed renovations and hired a local team of about 10 employees.
“We have everything a restaurant needs,” Director of Marketing Ryan Weedon said. That includes 35-pound jugs of fryer oil, gallon containers of mayonnaise and salad dressing, 20-pound bags of ice and 40-pound cases of chicken breasts.
Weedon said customers are always surprised by the immense sizes of the products, especially their meats. He believes Smart Foodservice can save food-service professionals money with their bulk sizes, bargain prices and by replacing delivery costs.
At the same time, he insisted, “we’re not trying to keep our prices low by skimping.”
“Quality is huge for us,” he said. Meat products, for example, are all graded as choice, select or better. “We don’t carry anything ungraded,” he added.
The company is able to maintain this quality at low prices by cutting costs on services such as slicing and processing meat, Weedon said. Customers at Smart Foodservice buy bulk meat cuts but slice the pieces themselves.
The Portland-based company, formerly known as Cash & Carry, also operates a comprehensive supply chain throughout the Pacific Northwest that allows it to provide quality food and supplies at affordable prices. “It’s what we can do when we’re bringing in a truckload or multiple truckloads,” explained Store Manager Kelly Brown.
Brown brings more than a decade of experience to the Kalispell store, including three years as the manager of the popular Missoula location that opened in 2017.
Weedon said Smart Foodservice prefers to bring managers from its other locations, “to make sure it’s run well and they’re familiar with our products.” He explained Smart Foodservice’s model is “a little different” from a traditional grocery store.
While Brown brings his extensive company experience, he pointed out the Kalispell store and its clientele are distinct from any other Smart Foodservice location. He noted there is a “diverse restaurant spread” throughout the valley and a proliferation of “mom and pop” establishments he wants to make sure to supply.
“There is always something here for someone,” he insisted. Brown said products range from meat cuts suitable for “a family of three or four people,” to a 24-foot display of coffee flavorings for espresso stands to the biggest bulk items for large-scale restaurants and resorts.
“If you want to learn about the concept, Saturday’s the day to do it,” Brown said. The grand opening will feature product demonstrations, including presentations on how to cut large meat products, as well as free food, oven mitt giveaways and a $250 gift card raffle.
Visitors at the event will also have the opportunity to explore the store’s unique displays, including an 1,840-square-foot walk-in deli cooler and a 1,650-square-foot freezer that customers can reach into or walk into, depending on the product they need.
“Only three or four [of our] stores have this setup,” Weedon said.
Converting the former Office Max building was “pretty simple” according to Weedon, since Smart Foodservice has opened stores in other former Office Max locations. He also said they had no difficulty in finding qualified employees, even though hiring has been a challenge in some of its other locations.
Weedon said Smart Foodservice representatives have recently traveled throughout the valley to introduce the local community to the store. Brown made sure to point out Smart Foodservice is unlike a typical grocery store or Costco.
“When you walk up to the building, it tells you what it is. It’s a Smart Foodservice warehouse store,” Brown stated.
Smart Foodservice Warehouse Store is located at 1031 U.S. 2 E. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 758-4459.