A new commercial restaurant supply house soft-opens today in the shadow of the 405 and 110 freeways. Orange County-based Chefs' Toys stomps a footprint in the South Bay, and sets up across the street from Restaurant Depot, the wholesale-only warehouse store where many restaurants and caterers pick up their food ingredients.
Unlike their neighbor, Chefs' Toys is open to the public, and aims to compete with Charlie's Fixtures, Action Sales, Star Restaurant Supply and other similar businesses where restaurant chefs buy their knives, flatware, stemware and appliances. Unlike Surfas, Chefs' Toys does not sell foodstuffs save for a few baker's specialties, but focuses on the equipment needed in a kitchen.
Their Fountain Valley store is also located near a Restaurant Depot location. Owner Steve Dickler explains the strategy. By clustering together, their core customers can make both stops quickly. "Restaurant Depot has some equipment, but we have way more of everything. If they're already driving to Restaurant Depot to buy their food, they can hop across the street [to see us]. We want it to be more convenient for our customer.. and want them to get back to their business as soon as possible."
Among Orange County restaurant chefs, Chef's Toys is renowned for knife sharpening. The business began as a mobile knife sharpening service for large restaurants with a battalion of chefs and their cutlery. They expanded into knife sales, and ultimately, into comprehensive equipment sales. The Torrance location will continue their sharpening heritage as a reasonably-priced service that draws new customers in for sales of other goods.
The equipment sales aspect grew so much that Dickler sold the sharpening business some years ago to two of his former employees. The large array of industrial grinding equipment is no longer kept on-site, but knives brought in Monday through Thursday can still be returned the next day. Knives brought in later in the week may not be returned until the following Tuesday. Word to the wise - call ahead if you must have your knives back right away.
The five-step process includes a mirror-polished final stage, and costs a flat rate of $3.75, rather than 80 cents or dollar an inch like other cutlery shops. Serrated knives, single-bevel Japanese blades and food processor blades can all be sharpened. Knives with broken or bent tips can be reground and reshaped, and depending on the extent of the damage, may not incur any additional charge.
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During next week's grand opening, vendors' reps will be on site to answer questions about the many lines of commercial equipment that Chefs Toys sells.
Chefs' Toys 20100 Hamilton Ave. Torrance. 310-400-3550. www.chefstoys.net