Published June 20, 2013
The 37,000-square-foot facility at 655 St. Andrews Road, Columbia, which originally housed a grocery store, is stocked with more than 4,000 pantry staples ranging from a gallon jug of barbecue sauce to 50-pound bags of onions to 30-pound bags of snow crab clusters.
Chef’Store does not charge a membership fee and is focused on serving chefs, restaurant owners, operators of institutional kitchens like churches, and the general public, the company said.
Nearly 70% of the customers at the company’s first two Chef’Stores are restaurant operators, said David Schreibman, executive vice president of strategy and business development for US Foods.
Many are served by US Foods’ distribution centers, but need to shop at the store because they’re running short of some items and need to restock their pantry, said Bob Stout, US Foods’ Southeast regional president.
“Restaurants operate seven days a week and with Chef’Store chefs and restaurateurs can now have access to all the US Foods products and other items they need to keep their kitchens running smoothly every day of the week,” Schreibman said.
The Columbia store is in St. Andrews Square, a strip shopping center just across the line in Lexington County and near the interchange of interstates 20 and 26.
The location is accessible to restaurant operators in the Harbison Avenue area, which is the city’s No. 1 hospitality district, and downtown Columbia.
For customers transporting perishables, the store provides complimentary frozen gel packs and offers cooler bags and other products to ensure proper food temperature.
The first Chef’Store opened in November in Charlotte and the second opened in February in Oklahoma City.
Like the Columbia store, the first two outlets are located in former retail facilities. The Charlotte store occupies a former Walmart, while the Oklahoma City store is in a former big-box electronics store building.
All Chef’Stores are near US Foods distribution centers.
Schreibman declined to disclose how much US Foods invested in the Columbia store.
The local store employs 30 workers and most have culinary skills, or have experience working in restaurants and the grocery industry, Stout said.
Headquartered in Rosemont, Ill., US Foods is the 10th largest privately held company in the United States with approximately $22 billion in annual revenue.