Restocking Kitchen Shelves : Quake victims may find restaurant supply stores a way to buy large quantities of goods at low prices.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; <i> Cindy LaFavre Yorks is a regular contributor to The Times</i>

Hand-me-downs and paper plates may tide some folks over temporarily, but people who lost kitchenware in the earthquake eventually will want permanent replacements. Turning to unorthodox sources may make the replacement experience a bit easier, since buying everyday china, bake ware and glasses doesn’t have to be a bank-breaking experience.

“In my own house, I think I have maybe three drinking glasses left,” says Les Birken, owner of Star Restaurant Equipment & Supply in Van Nuys. Although the store specializes in selling to the restaurant trade, it regularly sells to area residents who appreciate industrial-strength gear at affordable prices.

At restaurant supply stores, not only is everything cheaper by the dozen, it is the only way to buy, since minimums of 12 are enforced. For instance, sets of 12 microwaveable dishes at Star start at $20. Matching serving bowls, cups and saucers are available in lesser increments within many of the patterns featured. Glasses (minimum of 12) range in price from $7 to up to $25 a set for some of the premium designs. For San Fernando Valley residents gun-shy of breakables, melamine dinnerware is also available at the Van Nuys facility.


Valley residents have been pouring through the doors at the Dish Factory in Woodland Hills. Commercial business accounts for about 60% of sales, but those in the know flock to the store’s vast inventory--thousands of dinnerware patterns are featured, again in sets of 12.

In addition to plates and glassware, the store also sells coffee-makers, commercial blenders, portable fryers, chafing dishes and pizza stones. Prices range from $19.99 to $49.99 for a set of 12 dinner plates. Water glasses are $5.99 to $9.99 per dozen. A dozen wine glasses start at $14.99.

People who need fewer than 12 of everything might find what they are looking for at Ikea. The Media City Center store in Burbank offers several Start Box packs of essentials for the kitchen.

The 44 pieces in one Start Box include a set of white porcelain dinnerware consisting of four each of dinner plates, soups, side plates, cups and saucers. Also included are four wine glasses, four juice tumblers, four white place mats and four place settings of flatware. The $89 price for the Start Box is $10 less than the cost of buying the pieces separately.

Another Ikea Start Box features 50 items that sell for $195, which is $40 less than the price when purchased separately. Included are non-breakable mixing bowls, strainers, storage containers, cutting board, cooking utensils and other kitchen gadgets, plus a set of pots and pans. For $6.75, shoppers can get six wine glasses; a set of six beer glasses is $5.95.

Granada Hills resident Cathy Gelfand believes in plastic dinnerware, although she admits her passion is part of her business. An employee of Limelight Sales, an authorized Tupperware dealer, Gelfand suffered extensive damage to her home, but her company’s plates, cups and tumblers survived unscathed.


Gelfand, who arranges Tupperware parties, has been busy selling unbreakable kitchenware and teaching people without gas to cook in the microwave with safe containers.

Valley residents who give a Tupperware party are eligible for up to $100 worth of free Tupperware. Less sociable souls may prefer to fork over $13.50 for a set of six square luncheon plates, among the most affordable of the dinnerware that Gelfand sells. Clear acrylic tumblers sell for $12.70 for a set of four. Gelfand says if Tupperware ever cracks, chips or peels, the company will replace it free.

Where and When

What: The Dish Factory, 21109 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills. Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Call: (818) 888-3474.

What: Ikea, 600 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank. Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Call: (818) 842-4532.

What: Star Restaurant Equipment & Supply Co., 6178 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys. Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Call: (818) 782-4460.

What: Tupperware. Call: (800) 858-7221 or Granada Hills representative Cathy Gelfand, (818) 368-0690.