The Restaurant Supply District (not a tourist area and not normally on any map) is the Bowery, below Houston Street. In the early 1900s, restaurant supply stores replaced the Bowery theaters that had closed or moved uptown. Today, the area is fast becoming residential.
Lower Manhattan Info
BOWERY RESTAURANT-SUPPLY DISTRICT
“It started as a pushcart more than 90 years ago,” says Lori Balter as she describes Balter Sales Company. “Back then, whatever wares you had, you pushed.” And so her grandfather, who peddled restaurant supplies, took his cart and headed for the Bowery. “There were a lot of seafood restaurants down here, and they had to get their stuff from somewhere,” she says. Soon one cart became two, and today Balter, located at 209 Bowery, is one of the largest restaurant suppliers in an area boasting more than 30 such stores with similar beginnings. In fact, the stretch along the Bowery just north and south of Houston Street is one of the best-known restaurant-supply districts in the country. “ It’s a special place,” says Mark Nourieli of Mark’s Restaurant Supply (302 Bowery). “People know they’ll get a bargain here.” Prices are so low, he says, because restaurant-supply manufacturers have a long and trusted relationship with downtown suppliers. “They have a special price for us — and no one else in the country gets that price.” Al Yegane has been buying soup kettles, ladles, pots, and pans from shops along the Bowery for the past 15 years. The man who inspired the Soup Man character on Seinfeld, Yegane admits that he’s “kind of hard to please.” But because he knows he’ll get a good price and great quality, “I am very happy with these people down there,” he says of the downtown restaurant suppliers whose shops he frequents. True to their name, Lower Manhattan’s restaurant-supply shops sell primarily to restaurants, hotels, and other suppliers. But lucky for amateur chefs, the high-quality knives, meat grinders, juicers, stoves, utensils, and other goods can often be purchased by the piece — and frequently at wholesale prices. So the next time you want an industrial-strength cookie sheet for half what you’d pay at Williams-Sonoma, come to the Bowery.
5 May 1958, New York Times, pg. 41:
A twenty-year lease on two five and six-story buildings at 231-33 Bowery has been taken by the Trenton Hotel China Company. The property is a landmark of the hotel and restaurant supply district.
14 June 2002, New York Times, pg. F3:
I HAVE been wandering New York City’s restaurant supply district, a four-block stretch along the Bowery just below Houston Street.
Take a stroll along the Bowery just above and below Houston, and you’ll find such a store. If not with that exact name, then with the spirit it implies. This strip is the restaurant-supply district, and if you’re an eatery owner — or just dream of becoming one — this is a kitchenware wonderland.
Tracked on December 13, 2004 07:53 AM