The Sonoma Grille offers a little bit of California wine country cuisine in downtown Pittsburgh. Kris Barringer, now executive chef, has been with the restaurant for four years. The Grille is the brainchild of chef-owner Yves Carreau, who was born and raised in Lyon, France. True to California style, the menu could be described as eclectic fusion, featuring dishes from Mexico, Japan, the Middle East and France in addition to its Sonoma Valley theme. Tapas play a big part in the offerings, and wine pairings are featured.
It must require many distributors to supply such an eclectic menu.
That’s true. We have a lot of specialty items. For instance, one of our signature items is called Study of Duck. It’s three different preparations of duck. We have a lot of variety on our menu.
I get seafood in from Hawaii by Fed Ex and have anywhere from four to 13 vendors for other products. We use 120 pounds of tuna a week and 150 pounds of salmon. That gets vendors’ attention. My main distributor is Sysco. I get about 45 percent of my groceries from them.
What services does Sysco provide?
My [sales rep] brings me new products and samples to play with. She was a chef here in Pittsburgh, so she understands my business. She also helps me with any problems that might arise and keeps me up to date on the latest trends.
Sysco conducts business reviews for me as well. They bring me in to their offices, and we discuss all the products that I use. They offer new ideas and we discuss ways to work together better.
What do you look for in a distributor?
The first thing is quality, then a fair price.
Is there anything your marketing associate or your other distributor reps do that makes you crazy?
I don’t like it when a company is out of a product, and they don’t give you a heads-up or they try to substitute something. I don’t have that happen very often. Some of the smaller companies will do it.
So you’re happy with your distributors?
My relationship with my all my reps is pretty level—no screaming. I find they all want to take care of me. I guess I must be spoiled.