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Surfas "Sorry it's out of stock"

robl May 1, 2007 07:46 PM

Surfas is a good place to go when you want to find interesting items or need cooking/baking tools that you can't always find anywhere else.

Over the last year, it seems they're always Out Of Stock on things that I need. It seems they have serious issues with inventory control.

Not going to post the specific items, as they are hard enough to find, but here they are: Black or White Bistro Aprons, Truffle Slicers, (Special Brand) Cocoa, (Special Brand) Coffee Beans.

I spoke with one of the buyers once when I did a special order...I don't want to totally bag on these people, but sounds like they're young college girls that don't quite "get it".

What really sucks is making a trip there only to find that they don't have the items...try calling, and if you don't have the item code, they don't always know what the item is and could risk having a misunderstanding.

Sounds like other have similar experiences based on a few postings..."Sorry it's out of stock!!"

  1. r
    RicRios May 1, 2007 08:08 PM

    Surfas is probably the most overrated place I've ever encountered in these boards.
    I have quite a few horror stories of my own (like buying new equipment and the store refusing to issue an invoice, but that's subject for another thread... or for a police report).
    In any case, the good news is: if you travel further east on Washington, past La Brea, you'll find plenty of restaurant supply places ( Alpine, Restaurant World, to name just a few) open to the public, better choices and prices.
    Needless to say, you won't find a fancy schmancy café à la mode in these stores, but certainly you will find aprons.

    3 Replies
    1. re: RicRios
      bulavinaka May 1, 2007 09:52 PM

      Yes, their prices can deal a death blow to one's eagerness in sampling many of their offerings...

      1. re: RicRios
        ronla May 1, 2007 10:08 PM

        do you have to be in the biz to buy at these places?

        1. re: ronla
          RicRios May 2, 2007 10:30 AM

          No. At least not the ones I mentioned above, and all those in that stretch of Washington Blvd.

          Others do. Main ones I can think of in the "for the trade only" category are the two Restaurant Depot (a.k.a. "Jetro" ) L.A. locations, Washington Blvd & Long Beach Blvd, and Jefferson & Hauser.

      2. sku May 1, 2007 09:46 PM

        Yes, I've encountered that as well. I love Surfa's, but on several occasions they have been out of a basic piece of cooking equipment and have directed me toward something much more expensive.

        1. b
          bulavinaka May 1, 2007 09:56 PM

          I don't know if Venice is convenient for you, but there's also a little gourmet store called, "Market Gourmet," at 1800A Abbot Kinney blvd. Lauren the owner used to work at Surfas and decided to open her own place after suffering at the hands of the ofttimes quirky owner. You won't find it having near the selection of Surfas in terms of equipment and supplies, but her tiny store carries an amazing assortment of food items.

          7 Replies
          1. re: bulavinaka
            hrhboo May 1, 2007 10:15 PM

            I second the Market Gourmet, and shop there regularly since I live and work nearby. Lauren has excellent taste and really makes the effort to stock many hard to find items. It really is a labor of love for her.

            They don't have a ton of kitchen supplies (definitely not aprons, I don't think) and what they do have is higher end and thus higher priced. The foodstuffs are much better value than the cookware.

            1. re: hrhboo
              emily May 2, 2007 09:49 AM

              Wow -- I just checked out Market Gourmet's website and while specific goods aren't listed, it looks to be packed with interesting things. Will have to check it out.

              1. re: emily
                bulavinaka May 2, 2007 08:43 PM

                They have a cheese tasting class Thursday night at 7:45PM as well... their cheese fridge is small, but man do they pack in alot of cheeses, and alot are American-made cheeses - probably about 40% of it is from here...

                1. re: bulavinaka
                  hrhboo May 2, 2007 08:53 PM

                  They have a pre-packaged cheese taster in the refrigerator near the prepared foods. For around $4-$5 you get 5 or 6 different cheeses with some almonds/walnuts and a bit of dried fruit. Makes a perfect lunch with a crusty roll or a few crackers.

                  1. re: hrhboo
                    bulavinaka May 2, 2007 09:08 PM

                    I really like their prepared foods section - there's something for everybody. But c'mon, Hrhboo - one cheese sampler will cost you at least two spinning sessions... and don't even go near their ice cream section. :P

                    1. re: bulavinaka
                      hrhboo May 2, 2007 09:26 PM

                      Hee! I'll gladly throw in a couple extra hours at the gym for a chunk of cheese once in a while. I rarely venture towards the ice cream...you know which frozen treat has my heart!

                      1. re: hrhboo
                        bulavinaka May 2, 2007 09:30 PM

                        And you'll soon have your very own place - I think they're just about ready to open...

          2. Dyspepsia May 2, 2007 09:39 PM

            Hmm, Surfas... I'm conflicted. I definitely liked them more when they were in their unpretentious warehouse next store. I used to call them the Trader Joes for chefs. Now they fancy themselves to be like Williams-Sonoma and who needs another one of those? That being said, they're conveniently located and big enough to always have things you'll need. They definitely have a hit or miss inventory which is frustrating and I'm talking not just about cooking supplies but food items as well. We all know their prices have gone up to pay for the upscale facility which no one wanted in the first place. One oddball quirk is their line policy. Has anyone noticed how rigid they are about where customers are to stand in line? If you get too close to the cashiers before you are called over, you might get reprimanded. I have brought uninitiated out-of-towners in more than once and they have gotten yelled at for this insignificant infraction. It's embarrassing and weird.
            I'm curious about these other recommended restaurant supply places. Do they have food and ingredients or just cooking equipment and supplies?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Dyspepsia
              RicRios May 3, 2007 12:50 PM

              Just equipment.

              The only places with food items (big time, Costco looks mom & pap in comparison!) I know of are the Restaurant Depot places, not open to the public.
              However, you can squeeze in going with a member.

            2. c
              chez cherie May 2, 2007 10:58 PM

              i just need to throw a little love surfas' way. when i need something i can't find anywhere else, surfas has it. when i go in for one thing, i find six or seven other fab things. while the service isn't over the top, i'd rather be left to my own devices than hovered over. i generally find the staff to be competent and reasonably knowledgeable, if harried.
              yeah, sometimes they are out of stuff, that happens everywhere...especially if i'm looking for something because i read about it in an article somewhere, just like everyone else did...they have no control, and sometimes no notice, of what will run when, and it's nearly impossible to gauge what demand will be for a given item.
              le sanctuaire or surfas? i'll take surfas every time!

              1. d
                Diana May 3, 2007 06:56 AM

                You know, I've never had a problem at Surfas.. They pretty much have what I want or will get it, and I just stay behaind the clearly marked line at the checkout.

                People have always been cheerful and reasonably willing to help.
                I've found one or two lazy employees that prefer to use the "out of stock" excuse rather than going and getting or looking for it. They are still nice about it. I just ask someone else when I get that response.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Diana
                  Dommy May 3, 2007 10:29 AM

                  Agreed! We love market gourmet but for the most part still shop Surfas because I've always found what I needed and the staff has indeed been helpful...

                  I have heard some crazy stories about "mr. surfas" though... LOL! :D


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