As a New York caterer, Lauren McGrath has a unique professional advantage: she maintains wholesale accounts with some of the city's top food suppliers.
So when the lockdown began, the Harlem-based food vet realized there was one straightforward way she could help her beloved purveyors: by continuing to place orders.
To do that on a meaningful scale, McGrath has invited friends and neighbors to join her.
The "local food maven," as she calls herself, has focused her efforts on three particular suppliers: Amy's Bread, Saxelby Cheese and Down East Seafood.
"The quality is sky high," says McGrath. "They normally supply fab restaurants and have expressed great appreciation that we are giving them business."
Every week she emails all who are interested food and wholesale price lists from each supplier (recent examples: French baguette from Amy's Bread: $1.70; Long Island littleneck clams from Down East: 59 cents each). She includes an ordering date as well as a tentative pick-up day.
The food is then delivered to her home on W 142nd Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue and must be picked up in person, keeping social distancing in mind. (McGrath is working to coordinate all deliveries on the same day, but for now they are staggered.)
As the number of orders has grown, McGrath has begun adding a slight markup (20%). Even so, the prices remain extremely low. And she is still offering first-timers an introductory order with no surcharge. Payment is via Venmo or similar.
To be placed on McGrath's email list, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.