By Kayla Anderson
Since Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak issued an order for the closure of all nonessential businesses four weeks ago, restaurants, casinos, bars, hotels, and more have had to shutter their doors or shift gears on a dime. And of course, it’s not just those small businesses that are affected- the COVID-19 pandemic has created a rippling effect all the way down to the co-packers and Sparks’ industrial businesses. Here’s a look at how two of Sparks food wholesalers are trying to cope with the sudden downturn:
Leontine Gourmet Foods
Wholesale food distributer Leontine Gourmet Foods located at 390 Freeport Boulevard generally provides bulk foods to local businesses but has since shifted gears to sell grocery items to the public at close to cost.
“We sell food to casinos and restaurants but since this whole coronavirus has come up, we’ve decided to sell to the public,” says Leontine Office Assistant Cheryl Szymkiewicz. Leotine is offering everything from escargots and baby clams to pasta, olive oil and butter all at amazing prices.
“We’re selling gourmet pomodorina sauces and 83 percent Vermont cultured butter by the pound for four dollars,” she says. Beef and cheese frozen raviolis are being sold at $20 per case, a gallon of farm-to-market canola oil is just $7 and olive oil by the gallon is anywhere from $15.75-$22. Leontine is selling orecchiette pasta for $2.75 per pound and providing deals on artichoke hearts, rice, and hearts of palm. A 4-oz. log of Cypress Grove Purple Haze goat cheese is six dollars, a 2.2-lb. of brie costs $12.50.
Leotine started offering this service April 1 and says that in the last two weeks some of the more popular items they’ve sold to the public include escargot, baby clams, frozen pasta, rice, and black truffle oil. Szymkiewicz says that opening Leotine to the public has tremendously helped business.
“It’s exciting that we can help others out by offering these food items at such a great price. A lot of people are staying at home cooking and baking now, and we offer all of those essentials,” she says.
“(Owner) Lon Monroe is all about customer service and helping out the community. It’s different but at least it keeps us busy,” Szymkiewicz adds. To order gourmet food items from Leotine, call 775-359-1046 or place an order online through https://leontinegourmetfoods.com/.
This family-owned co-packing and manufacturing company on Packer Way in Sparks has also experienced a downturn in business since the coronavirus pandemic since it serves a big portion of the local (and regional and national) hospitality business, but it has found a way to keep the doors open by shifting gears a bit to accommodate the immediate demand for hand sanitizer.
When Seven Troughs Distillery in Sparks began using their equipment to make hand sanitizer instead of liquor, it sent its product to Damon Packing to be finished and shipped to local hospitals. The demand for hand sanitizer has been significant in these trying times and Seven Troughs Owner Tom Adams has stated that if local businesses don’t make and distribute these necessities then they would simply not be available.
“In working with Seven Troughs we’ve found a way to adapt to the current situation to sell products to the healthcare community which helps everyone,” says Damon Packing Co-Owner Aaron Damon.
The family-owned packing business specializes in making and distributing beverages such as soda syrups, iced tea, lemonade, pina colada, daquiri, and other cocktail mixes which are generally sold to restaurants, casinos, and bars ranging from Northern Nevada down to Las Vegas and even shipped to Arizona and Hawaii.
However, Damon also sells drinks to the local healthcare industry including 100 percent juices and thickened waters to help dysphagia patients quell dehydration.
“We’ve had a downturn like the rest of the hospitality industry. A large portion of our business comes from them, we’re just not selling anything. Some (restaurant) customers that are doing takeout are causing a little bit of sales but by and large it’s shut down a big portion of our business. However, the opportunity to make hand sanitizer has been big; it keeps the doors open and we can continue paying our employees as well as help the community so it’s a win-win for everyone.
“I want to say a big thank you to local distilleries like 10 Torre, Verdi Local, and Seven Troughs for doing this. Everyone is stepping up and there’s a big community effort to help each other out. There’s no price gouging or taking advantage of the shortage, everyone is just doing what needs to be done to get through this,” Damon adds.