Putting Fresh Food on Chicago Tables During the Pandemic
CHICAGO — If you’ve been to a restaurant in Chicago over the past 15 years, chances are you’ve had ingredients supplied by MPS Chicago. Well, that was before, when people could enjoy dining out.
Back in March, when the pandemic hit and restaurants closed, Martinez Produce & Seafood lost over 80% of their business. For over 15 years, the company has been serving steak and seafood restaurants, sushi restaurants, specialty markets and hotels with fresh produce in Chicago and the entire Midwest.
Rather than close down and send everybody home, Alex Martinez and his team (who have been at MPS for over 10 years) decided to keep going, moving his business online and started MPS Groceries.
“People still have to eat. We still have to eat. And we have some of the best raw ingredients around.” Alex Martinez told us.
Providing the same quality food during a pandemic is no easy thing, but they did it nevertheless.
The company already had a good infrastructure in place with delivery vans and trucks ready to make the switch from selling wholesale to restaurants to making home deliveries to the people consigned to their houses.
Besides its famous restaurant quality and sashimi grade fish, Martinez Produce & Seafood also offers a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.
“We go to the market every morning and pick out the best fruits and vegetables, so we guarantee it's fresher than any grocery story”, Alex Martinez says.
MPS Groceries delivers its produce as fast as it gets it to ensure freshness. For home deliveries, if you place an order on mpsgroceries.com before 9 PM it will be delivered to your doorstep the very next day.
It’s been a hectic few months, as in addition to providing the same quality tuna, salmon or king crab legs, Alex Martinez had to enforce the strictest health protocols, to keep his employees and his customers safe.
Back in his office, Alex and his team are always on the phone with someone, discussing wholesale acquisitions and even micromanaging home deliveries. At the same time, he keeps an eye on his company’s web page to get a feel of customer satisfaction.
Ever wondered what happened to the reviews you leave on a website? Well, they read each and every one of them, in real time, as soon as they are posted.
He points to a new review on his avocados, "These are the BEST avocados. Creamy, HUGE, always on point. Consider each one as twice the size of most avocados in the market. Perfect for tartare and ceviche!" reads the review.
Fish and seafood are even more important as they need to be kept on ice and delivered as soon as possible.
"This tuna is the real deal! Absolutely amazing quality.” one satisfied customer says.
"I ordered sushi ingredients for the first time earlier this week—tuna, salmon, imitation crab, avocados, and seaweed. I also ordered edamame and shrimp tempura. Everything was so fresh and delicious! And it was a lot of food for the price we paid. I will definitely be ordering again." says another.
That’s very good news for Alex Martinez, although this does not mean he can relax.
“Everything we do is time sensitive, but we’re used to it by now and we love it”.
His online company is doing great, but, on the other hand, Alex Martinez cannot wait for things to be back to normal. The home-delivery part of the business will keep on going, but he’d like to see people going out and enjoying a nice evening in a sushi restaurant.
“I like to go out myself every now and then, you know”, Alex Martinez says.
The conversation is cut short by a phone call, something about salmon. Back to business!