If there's one thing that foodies love, it's doing it like the chefs do. Where do they eat? (Yutaka Sushi.) What shoes do they wear? (Clogs.) Where do they shop for kitchen gear?
Ace Mart. Which has just opened a branch near downtown Dallas, at 4004 Ross Ave. This San Antonio-based restaurant supply company has been providing small restaurants and mom-and-pops in Dallas with kitchen essentials for 20 years with five DFW locations in Dallas, Garland, Fort Worth and Arlington.
If you go into any Ace Mart, there's a good chance you'll see a restaurateur picking up basics like knives, cookware, bar supplies and furniture. But even though the majority of the business comes from commercial and restaurant customers, anyone can shop there.
Ace Mart's primary business comes from commercial and restaurant customers, but anyone can shop there.
"We get a lot of walk-in traffic," says manager Denny Stalcup. "Our big sellers are sheet pans, bakery supplies, trays, bowls and glasses. We have a bigger selection than a mall kitchen store, but you're also talking about the difference between home-chef type stuff, which is more aesthetically pleasing, versus the durability of the restaurant-quality commercial equipment we sell."
One big plus: the price. Decorated cupcake papers at your local supermarket cost about $3 for 75; Ace Mart has 200 plain white for $2.25.
Having a branch in downtown Dallas was a dream of Ace mart founder Norman "Gus" Gustafson, who passed away a few years ago, Stalcup says. But it also just makes sense.
"They did some demographics and figured out that 40 percent of the restaurants that were shopping at the Forest Lane or Belt Line stores are located in the area of Ross and Haskell," he says. "We think it'll be a home run."
The Ross location was at one time Bowling and Billiards, an apparel and accessories shop, but it has been vacant for a number of years. The front door is not actually on Ross; it is set back in the parking lot. "The upside is, we got a lot more parking," Stalcup says. "Ross is going through a transition, so we think it's a good place to be."
The store, which is open to the public, hosts a grand opening celebration August 14-15, with 10 percent off. Regular business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.