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13-Hour Rescue Plans and Guts: How One Industry Is Surviving

Thousands of U.S. restaurant suppliers have been hit hard by the pandemic, but many are pivoting to selling their fish, cheese and produce to households. 

Water2Table owner Joe Conte, who is surviving the pandemic by selling to the public instead of restaurants, looks for his next delivery of fresh fish in San Francisco.

Water2Table owner Joe Conte, who is surviving the pandemic by selling to the public instead of restaurants, looks for his next delivery of fresh fish in San Francisco.

Photographer: Philip Pacheco/Bloomberg

Chad Inver used to supply wheels of cheese, 100-pound batches of beef fillets and cases of butter to restaurants, bars and hotels around Philadelphia. Now in the wake of America’s coronavirus shutdown, he’s surviving by selling goods to households via Ziploc bag. 

After Pennsylvania issued lockdown orders in mid-March, forcing many customers to close, Inver spread the word on Facebook that he’d be selling items like 5-pound bags of pasta and 1-pound cases of mushrooms—for pickup or home delivery—in a bid to keep afloat Larry Inver Wholesale Foods, which he runs with his parents. A few weeks in, it’s working. Sales are surging, and the company has added two employees to meet demand, while finding new accounts wherever it can—even at police precincts.