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Restaurant Supply Stores

So the most recent Minimalist column has inspired me to purchase some new pots and pans. Being a college student on a seriously limited budget, I need good gear for cheap.

Where in Chicago (preferably easily accessible by CTA) can I find a good restaurant supply store that's open to the public?

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  1. The West loop. If you drive on Randolph St, Lake St, and Madison you'll find a bunch of them. There is also one on Milwaukee just north of Grand.

    1. If you are looking for CHEAP, a restaurant supply place is generally the WORST place to look for it. You will do better looking at a USED restaurant equipment vendor OR a Goodwill/Salvation Army store.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jlawrence01

        There's an article in today's New York Times about how inexpensive it can be to outfit an entire kitchen with equipment purchased at a restaurant supply store:

        1. re: nsxtasy

          That may be true in NYC but I have seen FEW bargains in any restaurant supply stores. OTOH, I have bought 1st quality professional grade equipment at:

          1) Goodwill and thrift stores
          2) TJ Maxx/Marshalls
          3) Tuesday Morning
          4) Rummage/Church/Estate sales

          all at 10-15 cents on the dollar.

          BTW, the prices quoted in the article are decent, not real cheap. I bought a complete set of pots and pans a few years ago for $10 .

      2. You can find a nice guide to what to look for in pots and pans in an article in the December 2002 issue of Consumer Reports, which you can probably find in your local public library. Once you decide on what to look for, shop around. Sam's Club and Costco both have sets for relatively low prices. Costco has a location in the city at 2746 N. Clybourn, near Damen and Diversey, accessible via the 76 Diversey and 50 Damen CTA bus routes; membership is required but you can get a one-day pass. Target, with numerous locations in the city, is another good place to shop for cookware, and no membership is required. However, regarding CTA access, keep in mind that a complete set of cookware is going to be fairly heavy and bulky, so you may want to consider going with a friend who has a car.

        In my own experience, I've found the best deals on cookware by deciding what I want, and then shopping on-line, primarily finding new items on eBay, and occasionally the one-day-only sales on Friday on Amazon.com (often noted on slickdeals.net).

        1. I know you're looking for pots and pans, but if you are in need of good knives for cheap (and everybody needs those) you can get some good knives at Northwestern Cutlery on 810 West Lake Street. In one of the side rooms, they have refurbished or bulk knives for cheap.

          They sometimes have specials on good cookware, too. In any event, the staff there is pretty knowledgeable. They also sharpen knives.

          1. Don't bother. For your needs, you can do just as well at Target or at a T.J. Maxx, which is my favorite place to buy kitchen goods.

            Emeril's line is made by All-Clad (I got a set of 7 wonderful pots and lids for $99 at T.J.'s) and Calphalon makes a line for Target. Revereware and Farberware are also good starter lines. I still have some of the Revereware I got in college.

            1. Go to a hardware store and buy a cast iron skillet (Or get an old one from your grandmother) best non stick before they invented non stick.
              Best thing to cook a steak in doors
              If you buy it now it will last until you hand it down to your grand children
              Will cost about $15.00
              In a pinch you can make a pineapple upside-down cake in it
              T.J. Maxx sells great pans cheep but you need to wait until they have what you want. I got an all clad 5 quart there, they only had 3 they only had grey but it was only $15.00 and it is usually a lot more

              1 Reply
              1. re: foodbeast

                Foodbeast and Durzia said what I cam here to say... If you have strong enough shelves, outfitting your kitchen with cast iron will result in some great food and mighty wrists!
                I bought my first piece of All Clad at a TJ maxx for 60% off regular retail, but bought a 7 piece copper clad set from Cusinart at Tuesday morning for less than $175.

                As rubinow suggested, Northwestern cutlery has pretty good prices on cutlery and is usually about 10% cheaper on gadgets and tools than other retailers. In adition, they carry the lightweight/hard wearing aluminum pots and pans favored by restaurants- they are not as cheap as a 16pc faberware set from Bed Bath & Beyond, but with a little care, they'll last for decades and will take more abuse than you can possible throw at them.

              2. Tuesday Morning is great too:

                3141 N. Lincoln Ave.
                Chicago, IL 60657
                Open Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm

                1. Don't listen to these jokers. I was also inspired to hunt down some restaurant supply stores after reading the bittman article. Most places I found were closed on Saturday, but I did find a place that was exactly like what I was looking for. I don't remember the name, but it was at around 1024 W Madison. I bought a 10" chef's knife for twelve dollars, a bread knife for six-something, and a thermometer for a few dollars. Also, check out Northwestern Cutlery (810 W Lake) for specific things like microplane graters and sharpening stones.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: daftpenguin

                    At Northwestern Cutlery, check out the Forschner/Victorinox knives. I got the Chef's knife and like it a lot - far better balance than Henckels or the other expensive ones. They also rate high in Cook's lllustrated's comparisons.

                  2. I saw the same article. I was looking for a a good-sized an aluminum saucepan and found a great one at C & R Equipment Service near 18th and Canal, south of the Loop. It's a new 4-quart, heavy duty pan made in Korea and it set me back a whopping $17.50 [see photo]. For those of you singing the praises of Target and other retail stores, I agree, they're great. But I was specifically looking for a restaurant-style pan like this, and I haven't found it in retail stores.

                    The store is a Chinese-run business, so expect lots of woks as well as standard pots, pans, utensils and other kitchen equipment.

                    C & R Equipment Service. 312/850-1818, 1882 S. Normal Ave.