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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Plainfield landmark E&A closing, all kitchen supplies on sale

The Arlington Avenue entrance to E&A (Earl and Al's),
"The Chef's Toy Store" -- where everything is on sale.

After 85 years of servicing the restaurant industry, Earl & Al's Restaurant Supply (known as E&A) is closing the doors of its Plainfield store the end of September.

Though it primarily serves the trade, the store has always been open to individual retail customers, as I learned when I first moved to Plainfield 35 years ago and found needed kitchen items in the store -- at a far better price than in the department stores (Macy's) and of a better quality (restaurants beat the hell out of equipment!).

Later, I gave gift certificates to friends who enjoyed cooking so they could explore the "cook's toy store" as A&E tags itself.

So I was surprised to notice one day last week a "For Sale" sign in the window and sale notices everywhere.

I stopped in on Thursday afternoon and chatted up Al -- the legendary "Al" of Earl & Al -- and Bobbie, who manages the store.

Al told me the he and his wife bought the business 45 years ago, from a family that had owned it for 40 years. They bought their current building at Arlington Avenue and East 5th Street from the city, which had foreclosed on the previous owners for unpaid taxes (that would be post-1968 riot, when many businesses fled downtown Plainfield).

But Al and his wife saw a business opportunity and over the years saw a brisk trade with the restaurant industry not only in New Jersey, but in New York and Pennsylvania as well.

But, Bobbie says, all that began to change with the Internet. "I've had people shop here and then come up to me -- after checking on their cellphones -- and tell me they found a better price elsewhere," she said. Sadly, a story that can be repeated by thousands of retailers.

"So," Al told me, "we finally decided to pull the plug on the bricks-and-mortar store."

"We're not going out of business," he assured me, "we are merging with another restaurant supply business -- physically located in Bridgeport, CT -- and will continue to operate E&A online, allowing a seamless experience for all our current customers."

In order to close the store, they need to sell off all the merchandise on the floor.

That's where you come in.

If you are a kitchen or cooking maven -- this place is for you. And everything is on sale. For the next two weeks only.

Here are some shots of just a sampling of the huge inventory --

Restaurant quality pans and equipment...

... China, crystal and tableware...

...Chairs, stools, tables and more...

... Chef's jackets, toques and tools. Did you know you need
a padded sleeve for hot pot handles? They have it.

If you have renovated your kitchen and have restaurant-quality appliances, you should take a look at what's on offer at E&A's.

From utensils and pans to china, crystal and tableware. From chairs, stools and tables to chef's jackets and toques. There are thousands of items to peruse, some waiting to whisper to you: "You need me, you just know it."

The store is open from Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM (except for this Wednesday, when it is closed for Yom Kippur).

Parking is available on Arlington Avenue ACROSS from the store, or in DESIGNATED spots in the YMCA parking lot.

Or you can shop at their website here, where items are NOT on special sale.

Plan now to stop by while the store is still open, check out what's available, and say "Hi" to Al and Bobbie and thank them for their many years of service to the Plainfield community, and wish them well on their future journey.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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