What do Smokin’ Betty’s, Davio’s, and Devil’s Alley all have in common? They’re all supplied by Sysco Philadelphia. Typically, when people think Sysco, they think fast food, not fine dining or neighborhood café. They’re more apt to think mass-produced burger buns, not fresh bread from LeBus. For an independent operator, Sysco has been a special ingredient in their success. From price competitive, locally-sourced products, to menu design services, and a business that gives back, Sysco is a valuable partner to have on your team.  

To give you some background, I envisioned Mugshots as being more than just a local coffee shop. It was also supposed to be an intersection of sustainable local producers and fairly sourced coffee and tea. That meant working with local farms to source meats, dairy, and produce for our kitchen. I made connections with small business owners and suppliers all across Philly and its surrounding counties. Fair and local was the name of the game. On top of that, I made sure we produced as much food in-house as possible in order to offer unique flavors that customers would come back for. I wanted to everything to be fresh and delicious, while adhering to our “triple bottom line” philosophy.

I was also new the game and fixed in the ways my ideals could be achieved through my cafe. If you mentioned Sysco to me, I would think a room full of suits running stacks of cash through bill counters. But now when you mention Sysco, I envision something quite different. Here’s why:   

Sourcing locally

Sysco may be a multinational company, but that doesn’t mean they can’t think on large and small scales. In Philadelphia, it’s managed at a local level. Sysco Philadelphia employs about 500 people, all of whom also live locally, which is great for the local economy; these workers, in turn, support their neighborhood small businesses. Also, in an effort to buy as much local product as possible, Sysco partners with suppliers like The Common Market and Mother Earth Organics. 

Giving back 

Sysco’s commitment to keeping things local is also a commitment to local communities. Sysco Philly’s philanthropy and volunteerism supports groups such as Philabundance, Ronald McDonald House, and Alex’s Lemonade Stand. On a national level, Sysco directs 75% of its community donations and volunteerism towards hunger relief initiatives with programs like No Kid Hungry. Their commitment does not stop at people either—they extend their stewardship to the world around us in their sustainability efforts.

Sustainability

From warehouse to corporate offices, Sysco facilities focus on sustainability. For example, although the expansion of their warehouse in South Philly doubled its size, its environmental footprint was reduced by half. They also maintain a local farm focus when sourcing fresh foods in order to reduce how far their trucks have to travel. Why haul product across the country when they can source tomatoes from farms in Jersey? For deliveries, Sysco uses assigned days and routes in order to make sure their trucks spend the least amount of time driving while delivering as much as possible. In even further efforts, Sysco will also be adding 50 Tesla trucks to their fleet in order to reduce their carbon footprint even more. 

Confidence

When you work with Sysco, you know who you’re dealing with. From seed, to farm, to truck, to table, Sysco’s quality assurance is overseen by 150 corporate associates and 35 contracted inspectors. They know where your buns have been and every ingredient that has gone into them, giving you confidence in serving safe, fresh food.

A resource beyond product

Looking to for some help in pioneering some new recipes or dishes? Well, Sysco is more than a fleet of trucks and friendly drivers. If you head on over to 600 Packer Avenue, you can find an amazing test kitchen filled with talented cooks, chefs, and other food professionals. Here, professionals work with businesses in order to create delicious seasonal menus that align with the harvest schedule of local farms. On top of that, to help keep your kitchens stocked, reduce waste, and make sure you’re getting the most out of your menu, Sysco also provides tools for menu design, inventory management, recipe and cost analysis, and easy online ordering. Don’t have the time to break down the recipes and set it up in their system? That’s where I come in.   

The bottom line

All of these tools, training, partnerships, and resources end up helping your bottom line. Of course as a big company they have the economies of scale to be price competitive. But they know they have to be much more than that. Sysco also distributes for key suppliers like UNFI (minus the steep minimums and headaches) and The Common Market (the best Philadelphia-based distributor of local food), which by the way, was the main reason for my decision to make the switch to Sysco. They can also help you manage costs and train your staff. The bottom line: large food purveyors are offering a lot of value added services to be your partner. The sales reps are no longer just taking your orders — they are helping you succeed.

Need a Sysco rep in the Philadelphia area? I have a long standing relationship with Bernadette Minni, who consistently goes above and beyond to get you what you need — email her: minni.bernadette@sysco.com