Cash and Carry sells restaurant quality to the public
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Vineyard Cash and Carry (VC&C) is a wholesale restaurant supply business open to the public that sells food and non-food items. Tucked off the Edgartown Road in Tisbury, the family business has provided savings to Islanders for years.
"Our niche is letting anybody buy like a restaurant," owner Jonathan Averill said. Most restaurant supply companies only sell to restaurants that have accounts set up, he explained.
The business name reflects the fact that individuals can buy without an account. "But we are not just a cash business," he said. "We do take credit cards." They also now deliver.
The business is in a warehouse-like space tucked into the back of the Carroll's Martha's Vineyard Rapid Transit warehouse, on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road just south of the Island Elderly Housing complex.
Cash and Carry is a family-owned business. Its roots go back to 1971 when Mr. Averill's grandfather, Preston Averill Sr., started Averill Milk Company, an ice cream distribution business. Preston Jr. joined his father in the business soon after.
The business name was changed to Averill Distributors in the 1980s. It was sold in 1985 and renamed Island Frozen Foods and sold again to become Island Food Products.
In 1992, Preston Jr. started Cash and Carry. Jonathan took over the business in 1999 after serving in the Army for four years.
A fourth generation Islander, Jonathan Averill is a trim, youthful 41-year-old who would look at home in a sixties surfing movie. He began working for his dad when he was 9 and began making deliveries when he got his driver's license at the age of 16. "I spent almost as much time working as I did in school," he said.
In addition to work, he found time to play football. Mr. Averill entered the Army immediately after graduation. In keeping with the family tradition, he was in motor transport. He drove Army trucks in Germany and in California for four years.
When the business first opened, only 10 percent of sales was to the public. Now, sales to the public have increased to 40 percent, which Mr. Averill attributes in part to diversifying his product lines and providing smaller quantities.
Just about every Island restaurant buys from him at some point, he said, particularly when they need smaller quantities. During the busy months of summer there are six employees and two the rest of the year. With a laugh, he said his father still works for the business. Mr. Averill said he pays him to stay home.
Delivery was the heart of the old business and Mr. Averill has brought it back. "When my father took over, he had about 25 pieces of equipment, but he wasn't interested in delivery," he said.
VC&C just purchased its first truck three years ago — "the newest part of the business."
Mr. Averill married Kimberly White, a sister of a friend, from the North Shore in 2004. They have two boys, seven and five years old, who attend the Oak Bluffs School. Ms. Averill, who was a computer software buyer when they met, handles much of the bookkeeping and the taxes.
Open to the public six days a week, Cash & Carry has 1,600 items in stock. Mr. Averill said they have access to over 35,000 items, including produce, dairy, frozen foods, meats, sea food, pork, poultry, baking items, canned goods, paper products, janitorial supplies, and light cooking equipment. Non-stock items are available usually within 24 hours. The hours are 8 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 508-693-7708.