For 70 years, commercial kitchens in Oklahoma have turned to Curtis Restaurant Supply for everything from stoves to spatulas, bakeware to barware and everything in between.
Curtis Restaurant Supply was founded in 1946, and in 2002 Jay Gulick and three others bought the company.
“We were in the telecom business,” Gulick says. “In 2001, the internet bubble burst, and the demand for telecommunications plummeted. The four of us were trying to figure out what we were going to do.”
Gulick, who is now the sole owner, says it was an interesting transition going from a corporate environment to a small company.
“The buck really stops with me,” he says. “You’re dealing more with customers. You interact and you have relationships with them. You’re looking out for employees. It has been fun but challenging.”
Customers of Curtis Restaurant Supply are not only restaurants, but also schools, churches, hospitals, casinos and even home cooks.
“Our main focus has been the commercial kitchen,” Gulick says. “We do have some residential customers. Our inventory is the mainstays in the commercial kitchen that don’t have the big shiny price tags of other specialty home stores. Our items have great functionality at a reasonable price.”
The store is easy to navigate with signage throughout that lets customers know exactly where to find items like stockpots, cutlery, mixing bowls and baking sheets.
Gulick says the store offers about 3,000 different culinary items. And with the rise in popularity of the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, some of the more specialized items have become more popular in home kitchens.
“You’ll see people come and buy things (for residential kitchens) that you’ve never seen them buy before, like an industrial french fry potato cutter,” he says. “I think we have the biggest inventory of product than almost anyone else in terms of breadth and depth. Customers feel that if they need something, we’ll have it.”