NEW BEDFORD – It was a rainy night on March 23rd, 2020, the specialty food distribution company Sid Wainer & Son temporarily closed its delivery service over COVID-19 when a four-alarm fire broke out shortly after midnight that damaged six tractor units, its warehouses and retail store.
“You can replace buildings, you can replace food, but you cannot replace people,” said Regional Vice President Allie Wainer. âAnd nobody was hurt. We are covered. “
Wainer says her team moved into the company’s Mattapoisett facility just 24 hours after the fire and was able to deliver to customers immediately. Within two weeks, the New Bedford building was cleaned up and normal operations resumed.
Unfortunately the retail store is Jansal Valley provisionstook extra time. “There was just so much uncertainty about safety,” said Wainer. “We just wanted to make sure we were protecting our people, focusing on our core business, and making sure our customers got what they need.”
That tragic night:Overnight fire causes great damage to Sid Wainer
The gourmet outlet, which gently reopened on Aug. 10, is back and better than before, with a greater variety of products, said Wainer. âWe used to have a lot of our specialty items, now we have a lot more to offer,â he added.
Friendly Fruit is one of the additional additions which is a heavily discounted product range with items that can no longer be sold to wholesale customers. The sampling and tasting stations will remain closed due to COVID-19 security regulations.
Additionally, Wainer hopes to include sections to showcase their sister companies, Foley fish and All brothers. âPeople don’t have to go to different places to find items. It will all be here, âsaid Wainer.
Sid Wainer & Son sells:The Wainer family remains in leadership positions after the business is sold to the national distributor
Another exciting add-on was Scuttlebut Coffee Company which serves coffee, breakfast and lunch from Wednesday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. âWe are very happy to have them in our facility and to work with them,â said Wainer. “We think they are a great example of a true passion for coffee and food.”
Shoppers can get coffee, tea, pastries, a breakfast sandwich, and more while shopping. Due to the uncertainty of the COVID variants Delta and Mu, one dining area has been postponed until further notice.
Founded in 2019, Scuttlebut co-owner Casey Cutting says she and her partners wanted to offer great coffee and food, but in an approachable way. Scuttlebut’s baristas are experienced with coffee and want to provide advice to the community.
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“Our goal is to have people who are happy to talk to you about coffee and provide a very welcoming experience regardless of their interests,” she said.
Cutting, 31, grew up with Wainer and has known the family for a long time. She thought Scuttlebut’s would be a good fit and hopes to introduce more coffee to the store too. Cutting says she is so excited to be part of the Wainer family.
Takeover of the family business
Wainer’s great-grandfather, Henry Wainer, opened his local supplier on Union Street in New Bedford in 1914. The store sourced products and groceries from the local community to sell 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 Retail trade.
“He took a small booth and turned it into a reputable national deal,” said Allie Wainer. Since 1974 Sid Wainer & Son has grown from one truck to 200 trucks and drove over 100 routes a day from the Canadian border to New Jersey.
âOur family vacations were always at suppliers or farms, at food fairs, and my father took us to work on the weekends,â says Wainer. “We have always been a family business … we always had a certain interest in it.”
Over the years:The Sid Wainer & Son story with New Bedford
Wainer, who works on 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 Chief Customer Officer.
âI’ve always had a passion for food because I think it brings people from all different communities to one table,â said Wainer.
Sid Wainer & Son joined on January 29, 2020 The chef’s warehouse family, a grocer based in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Shortly thereafter, Henry Wainer retired and Allie Wainer remained as Regional Vice President of Sales.
âI was allowed to work with my father for eight years and learn from him. He’s such an entrepreneur and has such a global vision, âshe said. âHe’s my mentor. Always will be. “
Visit of the facility
In the warehouse at 38 degrees, over 4,000 inclines of 40 to 60 employees are managed on the ground. Sid Wainer & Son employs over 370 people who manage 10,000 deliveries per week.
“We could probably use 50 more people,” says Wainer with a laugh.
During the pandemic, Wainer identified supply chain issues across the board. âTrying to get the product off the farm to the table was definitely a challenge due to the lack of manpower and transportation,â she said.
“It was challenged, but we got through the worst.”
Across the street, in an old brownfield that once belonged to the city, is the first greenhouse in downtown New Bedford. Sid Wainer & Son grows a range of products such as cucamelon (cucumber melons), baby cucumbers, Easter egg radishes and a selection of berries.
Help the community amid COVID-19:Sid Wainer comes to the food rescue pop-up market
Cooks shop in the greenhouse or buy pots to grow produce themselves. The greenhouse is also experimenting with possible new products – this year the employees are growing long beans. “We’re trying to do some interesting, unique things,” said Wainer.
Back at Jansal, Wainer says they can’t wait to add more fun items to their shelves. For the upcoming holiday, there are plans to offer additional truffle products, gift baskets and 40 different types of olive oil.
“When we are able to touch so many chefs and consumers across the Northeast, we are giving them an experience,” said Wainer. âIt can be part of a dinner, a wedding engagement, a graduationâ¦ all of the different happy, exciting things.
“It’s always about food and we’re excited to be able to touch all of these different experiences.”
Seth Chitwood, the Standard Times representative, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard Times today.