NEW BEDFORD – It was a rainy night on March 23, 2020, the specialist food distribution company Sid Wainer and son had temporarily closed its delivery service due to COVID-19, when just after midnight a four-alarm fire broke out damaging six semi-trailers, its warehouses and its retail store.
“You can replace buildings, you can replace food, but you can’t replace people,” said Regional Vice President Allie Wainer. “And no one was hurt. Were covered. “
Wainer says that only 24 hours after the fire, his team had moved into the company’s facilities in Mattapoisett and were able to ship to customers immediately. Within two weeks the New Bedford building was cleaned up and resumed operations as usual.
Unfortunately, the retail store, Provisions of the Jansal Valley, took extra time. “There was so much uncertainty around safety,” Wainer said. “We just wanted to make sure we keep our employees safe, focusing on our core business and making sure our customers get what they need. “
That tragic night:Nighttime fire causes major damage to Sid Wainer
The gourmet outlet, which smoothly reopened on August 10, is back and better than before, offering a wider variety of products, Wainer said. “We used to have a lot of specialty items, now we have a lot more to offer,” he added.
Friendly Fruit is one of the added additions, which is a heavily discounted product section of items that can no longer be sold to wholesale customers. Sampling and tasting stations will remain closed due to COVID-19 safety regulations.
Additionally, Wainer says they hope to include sections to showcase their sister companies, Foley Fish and Allen Brothers. “People won’t have to go to different places to find things. Everything will be here, ”Wainer said.
Sid Wainer & Fils has sold:Wainer family retains leadership positions after sale of company to national distributor
Another exciting addition was Scuttlebut Coffee Company serving coffee, breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. “We are very happy to have them in our facility and to work with them,” said Wainer. “We think they are such a great example of a real passion for coffee and food.”
Shoppers will be able to pick up coffee, tea, pastries, a breakfast sandwich and more while shopping. With the uncertainty of the Delta and Mu COVID variants, a dining room has been postponed until further notice.
Founded in 2019, Scuttlebut co-owner Casey Cutting said she and her partners wanted to deliver great coffee and food, but in an accessible way. The baristas at Scuttlebut are knowledgeable in the coffee business and are eager to advise the community.
Coffee meets cocktails:Cultivator Shoals adds Scuttlebut Coffee Co.
“Our goal is to have staff who are enthusiastic about talking about coffee with you and providing you with a very welcoming experience regardless of their level of interest,” she said.
Cutting, 31, grew up with Wainer and has known the family for a long time. She thought Scuttlebut’s was a perfect fit for her and is also hoping to help introduce more coffee to the store. Cutting says she is so excited to be a part of the Wainer family.
Takeover of the family business
Wainer’s great-grandfather, Henry Wainer, opened his local supplier in 1914, on Union Street in New Bedford. The store bought produce and food from the local community for sale to restaurants and various vendors on the south coast.
In the 1940s, Henry’s son Sid Wainer returned from World War II and took over the business changing the name from Wainer Brothers to Sid Wainer.
In the 1960s, Henry Wainer (Allie Wainer’s father) opened Sid’s on Martha’s Vineyard and after graduating from Nichols College he took over Sid Wainer and changed the name to Sid Wainer & Son. In 1974, Wainer moved the wholesale business to the Purchase Street location and opened the retail store shortly thereafter.
“It took what was a small product booth and made it into a very respected national company,” said Allie Wainer. Since 1974, Sid Wainer & Son has grown from a truck to 200 trucks, making more than 100 trips per day from the Canadian border to New Jersey.
“Our family vacations always consisted of visiting vendors or farms, attending food shows and my dad would take us to work on weekends,” Wainer said. “We’ve always been a family business… we’ve always had some kind of interest in it. “
Over the years:Sid Wainer & Son’s story with New Bedford
Wainer, who attended the Boston University School of Hospitality Administration, joined the company in 2013, as Director of Customer Relations. In 2015, she became Executive Vice President and in 2019, she was promoted to Director of Clientele.
“I’ve always had a passion for food because I think it brings people from all different communities to the table,” Wainer said.
On January 29, 2020, Sid Wainer & Son joined The chef’s warehouse family, a food distributor based in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Soon after, Henry Wainer retired and Allie Wainer continued as Regional Vice President of Sales.
“I spent eight years working with and learning from my father. He’s an entrepreneur and he has such a global vision, ”she said. “He’s my mentor. He always will be.
Visit of the establishment
Inside the warehouse, at 38 degrees, there are over 4,000 biases managed by 40 to 60 employees on the ground. Sid Wainer & Son employs over 370 people handling 10,000 deliveries per week.
“We could probably use 50 other people,” Wainer said with a laugh.
During the pandemic, Wainer noted supply chain issues at all levels. “Trying to get the product from farm to fork was definitely a challenge due to the lack of manpower and transportation resources,” she said.
“It was contested, but we overcame the worst. “
Across the street, located in a former industrial wasteland that once belonged to the city, is New Bedford’s first greenhouse in downtown New Bedford. Sid Wainer & Son grows an assortment of products such as cucamelons (cucumber melons), baby cucumbers, Easter egg radishes and an assortment of berries.
Helping the community in the midst of COVID-19:Sid Wainer hits the pop-up food rescue market
The chefs will buy in the greenhouse or buy pots to grow the produce themselves. The greenhouse is also experimenting with potential new products – this year the staff grew long beans. “We try to do unique and interesting things,” Wainer said.
Back at Jansal, Wainer says they can’t wait to add more fun items to their shelves. For the next holiday, it is planned to offer additional truffle products, gift baskets and 40 different varieties of olive oils.
“When we are able to reach so many chefs and consumers across the North East, we bring an experience to them,” Wainer said. “It can be part of a dinner party, a wedding, a graduation party… all the different happy and exciting things.
“There’s always food centered around that and we’re happy to be able to touch on all of these different experiences.”
Standard-Times writer Seth Chitwood can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.