DETROIT – Atlas Wholesale Food Co. is a major supplier of restaurants in the Detroit area and of casinos in the city but with the shutdowns of many businesses due to the restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the company is now selling to the public, the Detroit Free Press (DFP) reported on March 25.
The company “for the first time in the company’s history offering its inventory to consumers,” DFP reported, adding that “anyone can go online to order any of 3,000 items — from hot dogs to chicken to spray bottles of sanitizer — via the company’s website: atlaswholesalefood.com, which says there’s a minimum order of $100.”
CEO John Kohl told DFP, “We have to reinvent ourselves” after sales dropped by 80 percent.
“With the restaurant industry in a tailspin and casinos closed, Atlas faced having to lay off most of its 35 employees if the company couldn’t come up with a new business model, said salesman Manny Kotsis, who like Kohl is a grandson of the company’s founder,” DFP reported.
Kotsis told DFP, “Our grandfather started this in Greektown in 1949. He picked Atlas (as the company’s name) because ‘A’ was at the front of the phone book, where people would find it right away.”
“The firm is now on Detroit’s east side inside a large refrigerated warehouse attached to offices, nearby construction of Detroit’s big new Jeep plant,” DFP reported.
“Starting this week, individuals can pick up food orders at the warehouse at 5100 St. Jean near I-94 and Conner, or they can arrange pickups at five locations around metro Detroit, which happen to be restaurant parking lots,” DFP reported.
“These restaurants are our customers, so we’re trying to draw business to them as well,” Kohl told DFP, which added that “restaurants statewide have been ordered closed, although they can continue to sell food to take-out customers.”
On March 21, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered bars, restaurants and other businesses to remain closed through April 13, extending her first executive order that would have let then reopen on March 30, DFP reported, adding that “on Monday, Whitmer announced a broader ‘stay-at-home’ order that, effective Tuesday, mandates all Michiganders not deemed to be conducting essential business to stay home, but that doesn’t apply to Atlas employees because the business qualifies as an essential business, Kohl said.”
“We’re a critical element in the food chain. We have a warehouse full of food and there are store shelves out there that are empty, so we can help that,” Kohl told DFP.
Atlas sells food as well as a wide range of restaurant supplies, including the highly sought after items like hand sanitizer, disinfectant cleaners, and many types of cleaning wipes, “will take every precaution as it shifts its customer base from restaurants to individuals and families, said Kathy Roberts, inside bid manager,” DFP reported.
“We’re trying to avoid human contact. We can’t just open our doors here to the public, but they can go to our online marketplace,” Roberts told DFP.
The company’s new “Marketplace Direct” website feature was launched on March 23 and boasts “A safe way to get groceries – no lines, no crowds, limited human contact,” DFP reported.
The company is “incorporating weekly deliveries to drop-off sites as distant as Ypsilanti, will keep the company’s delivery drivers working,” Kotsis told DFP, adding that “the trucks will be at the drop-off sites from 11 AM-2 PM on a rotating schedule, starting Tuesday.
The DFP reported that “drop-off sites are: Tuesdays in the parking lot of Hills City Grill, 2940 Rochester Road in Troy; Wednesdays in the parking lot of Red Olive, 49605 Grand River Ave. in Wixom; also on Wednesdays in the parking lot of Pub 1281, 1281 Gratiot Ave., Clinton Township; Thursdays at the Somerset Swimming Pool lot, 18525 Masonic in Fraser; also on Thursdays in the former Big Boy restaurant parking lot, 2800 Washtenaw Ave., Ypsilanti. The schedule will repeat each week.
“Pick-ups are also available on any weekday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at the company’s warehouse, 5100 St. Jean in Detroit.”
Customers should note that “many of the items listed on the website are bulk (a 15-dozen case of AA extra-large eggs is $30) while others come as a single item (a 32-ounce bottle of Clorox sanitizing spray is $5.99)” and “for any order of $450 or more, they will deliver at the customer’s chosen time and location,” DFP reported.
“Because the company’s restaurant customers are struggling, a portion of the company’s new sales to consumers will be donated ‘to help the restaurants and service workers who are directly impacted by COVID-19,’ the company said in a news release,” DFP reported.
More information is available online: atlaswholesalefood.com