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Regular people can shop at Restaurant Depot now. Here's what to get

Samantha Christmann

For the first time in its 40-year history, Restaurant Depot has opened its doors to the public.

Until now, the restaurant supply store has been open only to cardholding members of the restaurant industry. But now, with restaurants closed except for takeout during the coronavirus pandemic, the company is hoping regular consumers – who have faced unreliable inventory on supermarket shelves – will temporarily shore up losses.

At the Cheektowaga store, 500 Duke Road, you'll be granted a one-day pass when you show your driver's license. Or you can just order through Instacart.

At Restaurant Depot, you'll get restaurant wholesale pricing, giant quantities and some products that aren't readily available elsewhere. Still, make sure you're comparing prices and quality to similar stores, such as Gordon's Restaurant Market on Elmwood Avenue, as well as BJ's and Sam's Club. Like every place else, some products and prices are great, others are not.

Oh, and keep an eye on food expiration dates. If it's going to sit for a while, you'll want it to stay fresh as long as possible.

Here's what foodies say are the best buys you'll find.

Weber's Horseradish Mustard. You'll be grilling out more than ever during these strange times. You can get a giant 32-ounce jar of Weber's for $4.89 (and I'm citing Instacart prices, which are higher than in-store).

Cookie sheets. You can get industrial-grade cookie sheets starting at about 5 bucks at Restaurant Depot. Just make sure you get one small enough to fit in your oven.

Frozen desserts. They don't taste frozen, they taste like dessert from a restaurant. Sure the cakes, cheesecakes, tiramisu and specialty pies are huge. But hey, that's quarantine, baby!

Avocado pulp. You should not be slicing avocados when you've been drinking. Still, you'll need guacamole to go with all those margaritas. You can get a 2-pound bag of chunky avocado pulp for $6.99.

Cooking utensils, gadgets and tools. There's no reason the stuff you use in your kitchen shouldn't be as practical and sturdy as what the pros use.

Cheese. OK, I'm going to preface this by saying Restaurant Depot doesn't carry Yancey's Fancy, and there are plenty of local places around Western New York to get good cheese.

However, you can get a 2-pound wheel of brie for 12 bucks at this place and that's just fun. Wouldn't you like to tell your grandchildren someday about that time you ate a 2-pound of wheel of brie during quarantine?

You can also get a 5-pound bag of vegan cheddar cheese for about $30, so there's that.

Kitchen knives. Chefs and cooks don't mess around when it comes to knives. You can find a broad range of them (boning knives, utility knives, steak knives, cleavers, whatever) for great prices.

Frank's Red Hot. Do you really put that stuff on everything? Prove it. You can get a gallon for 20 bucks.

Mixing bowls. Have you ever worked with a stainless steel mixing bowl from a restaurant? Go get one.

Frying pans. Obviously.

Prepeeled and trimmed produce. The onions, garlic and shallots alone are worth the trip.

Trays and platters. You'll find a nice selection of everything from stainless steel to foam, for whenever we get back to entertaining.

It took a pandemic to make us appreciate brick-and-mortar shops

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