Restaurant Suppliers Try to Salvage Business by Selling Produce Directly to Customers

Restaurant suppliers who would normally be shipping produce, seafood and other products to eateries are dealing with coronavirus closures by selling directly to consumers instead.

For example, Bryan Jessop of California’s Morchella Wild Foods, which normally sells flowers to restaurants, is exploring home deliveries or launching a CSA, both of which he’s promoting via social media. “I don’t think it will make me whole, but it will keep me busy and doing what I love to do,” Jessop tells Eater. “The silver lining might be that I can get to know some of my neighbors and maybe when things are back to normal, I’ll have something to supplement my restaurant business.”

Tyler Akabane, who forages mushrooms in the Boston area, has offered home delivery of the fungi for $20 a bag. In the first week, he sold 140 bags to 100 different homes. “It seems sustainable if I could keep orders like this up,” he says, while adding that this week orders are down to 42. “We have to assess and see if this is something we want to do or not. But we don’t have anything else.”

The issue many suppliers are facing is that they’ve already grown the produce, which means they have to try and sell it–or else it is in danger of spoiling.