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Gerharz Equipment Central Restaurant Supply 

Real People. Real Experts. Real Customer Service.

The Gerharz Equipment/Central Restaurant Supply Team.

How many times can you agree that a business’s tag line is absolutely true? When he was asked for a comment on his relationship with Gerharz Equipment, customer Joe Crabbe, owner of OIP (Original Italian Pizza) stated: “Say whatever you want. It’s all true – you guys are the best.” Now that’s trust, and an endorsement without reservation.

With the one-year-old merger of Gerharz Equipment and Central Restaurant Supply, the company has become a true “soup to nuts” provider of everything restaurant, from CAD-generated interior design and kitchen layout, to parts and equipment, to table
settings – and everything in between.

So, go ahead and think of one or two or your favorite local or regional restaurants. Chances are, Gerharz Equipment was part of that restaurant’s beginning, and is
continuing to supply it with parts, equipment, updates and on-going advice, whether the restaurant is 50 years old or two.

Sitting down with President Scott Gerharz and his father, and the business’s founder, Dick Gerharz, we played a quick game of “name that restaurant,” in which names of landmark pubs, restaurants, and even popular franchises were dropped —from Ichiban to Dinosaur, Tully’s Good Times to R.J. O’Toole’s— and yes, Gerharz had a hand in it.

Dick Gerharz, Founder & CEO, Gerharz Equipment, holds a Table Hopping insert from 1984.

Their philosophy, they explained, it was what you know, who you know, and most importantly, sincerely wanting your clients and customers to succeed that makes all the difference.

To understand, we begin at the beginning – with Dick Gerharz, and his somewhat unusual entry into the restaurant consulting and supply business.

He began as just a high school student, working part time for a dealer in restaurant equipment. Finishing school, he worked full time for a while, but then went off to seek his fortune in the steel industry. Quickly, he realized a factory job wasn’t for him and he opened his own pub. Building off an old schoolhouse, he hit the right idea at the right time: a “theme” pub, complete with chalk boards and a school bell.

Because he had made friends (who you know) among many of the other restaurant and bar owners in the area, they continued to come to him for advice and ideas (what you know). So when he was approached to help set up the very popular What’s Your Beef, the rest was history. “The owner left an envelope on my desk,” Dick said. “Inside was a signed blank check. On the envelop it just says, ‘Call me.’”

Over time, Gerharz was instrumental in setting up the legendary Poor House restaurants, and has customers like Borios and The Varsity that are 3rd generation friends and fans. I wanted to know if my estimate was right – yes, Gerharz figures that the business has been involved in about 50% of the independent restaurants and bars opened in the wider CNY area. Joining forces with Central Restaurant Supply that number increases even more!

Joe Crabbe, OIP, gets expert advice at the Parts Counter with Kevin Longley, Parts Manager.

Gerharz Equipment acts as a partner, friend, and champion to its many customers. If a design is needed, they’ll spec it to the last detail – from power consumption, to which way cabinets open, to how far a cook will need to walk to get a dish prepared and out the kitchen door.

“It may not seem like it,” Scott said, “but every detail becomes important in a busy kitchen. The chef knows what dishes he or she wants to prepare, and we design to make it as easy as possible to get that done. But we also have to be flexible, and think ahead – menus do change. And a chef may know they need a particular piece of equipment, but may not know about a new item that can help them be even more efficient.”

John Grainger, Corporate Executive Chef for Woodbine Hospitality Group, and Melissa Parsons, Sales Associate for the Group, sat with Michael Shirk, Sales Associate, in the Central Restaurant Supply location. The sense of camaraderie was obvious as the three discussed their business relationship.

“There’s nothing they can’t get for you,” said Grainger.  “The service is really personal – they go above and beyond. They jump through hoops. I might talk to Mike 4, 5, 6 times a day. I’m picky, I know what I want. He’ll find it.”

Parsons agreed, adding, “It’s always quick response. And they look ahead – there are lots of new products coming on the market all the time, new ideas, new trends. Working at many different properties, each one with a different style, I need a unique aesthetic for each one. Gerharz and Central gives me that. They’re always sending me ideas.”

Walking through the Molloy Road building, a visitor will be stopped immediately by the old Vulcan stove in the front hall – a piece of kitchen legend, and a clue to the depth and breadth of knowledge and history that are woven into Gerharz Equipment. Along the walls are old mirrors decorated with soda ads – a bit of Scott’s legacy, he says, having started in the family business as a youngster hauling soda syrup around town.

In the back of the building is a design suite, where clients can see elevations of their dream restaurant come to life. “The floorplan is a start,” says Scott. “But we like to give them a real sense of how it will feel to be in the kitchen.” And as I watched the huge screen, a kitchen literally grew before my eyes, and I was able to virtually enter it, see which way and how far a door would swing, or where a stove top would be relative to a sink.

Rich Bidlake (Equipment Sales Consultant) & Andrea Northrup (Food Service Interior Designer) of Gerharz Equipment working on the latest Tully’s Good Times Restaurant location with Owner/Operators David & John Paul Giamartino in the Design Department at Gerharz Equipment.

The showroom is complete with everything from sinks to racks to mixers and storage. And at the back is another area that sets Gerharz apart: the Parts and Service department. Approaching it felt a bit like going to the parts department at an auto dealer or repair shop. Contractors sat at a counter, consulting with Gerharz’s experts – who could draw from a massive inventory of parts and equipment the company stocks so the contractors and repair people can get what they need, and get back to the job. Gerharz takes great pride in stocking parts and supplies for both equipment they carry, as well as the odd and unusual item a service person might need. “They make their money getting the job done,” says Scott. “We’re here to help them do that. And we learn from them. They’ll tell us what equipment holds up and what doesn’t – so we learn how to make the best recommendations to our other customers.” Added customer Joe Crabbe, “I trust Gerharz to get the part I need fast so I can get my
equipment operating with minimal downtime.”

On our way to the main building, we stopped at a job site where the Gerharz team, led by David DiPaola, Director of Installation, was busy setting up a convenience store and food mart. A part of the business for decades, DiPaola explained that Gerharz could do what was needed, completing your entire installation from the bare walls, or just those elements of the job you needed them for.

As I gazed around at all the equipment, I wondered about the electric load. “We take all that into account, so when the electricians arrive they know just where everything is going to be, and how much demand will be on every circuit,”
David told me. They install refrigeration units, cooktops, warming ovens, gondolas, coffee and soda machines— whatever you want, and the things you didn’t know you needed until the Gerharz team explained how a particular item would save money, add service, reduce downtime— and ultimately, help make your business more successful.

Scott Gerharz proudly ran down his employees’ experience in the restaurant and food service industry. Most were veterans of the kitchen side – so they knew first hand the challenges of the hectic, fast-paced, continually evolving world of professional food service.

The ultimate test, of course, is a smoothly functioning, profitable enterprise. The Gerharz team takes their client’s and customer’s business success personally.

“We’ll consult or we’ll jump on a request,” said Mike Shirk, “it’s your choice. We respond to the customer. Our aim is to provide the best service possible so you can make your restaurant succeed.”

Michael Shirk, Sales Associate, Gerharz/Central Restaurant Supply consults with John Grainger, Corporate Executive Chef and Melissa Parsons, Director of Food and Beverage, Woodbine Hospitality Group (Genesee Grande)

The sheer scope and multitude of choices was more than ample demonstration of the value of Gerharz as a partner to the restaurant and food service operation. “We understand the convenience of online selection,” added Scott Gerharz. “And it’s our business to make sure you get the very best choice for your business, right from the start, and all along the way. So we’re taking advantage of Internet technology, as well. We’ve created secure areas on our website tailored to each customer, so they have the convenience of the Internet, and the personalized service we take pride in. We’ll help you select it so it’s right for your space, we’ll bring it in, set it up, remove the packaging, fix it if it breaks down, make it help you make money.”

“We believe in the local philosophy – restaurants buy and serve local food products, we’re your local partner for restaurant equipment, supply and service, and we choose from local and US vendors. It’s a good thing for our whole community.”

Nancy Roberts
Writer, voice over artist, information achitect, very curious person.