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VOL. 132 | NO. 234 | Monday, November 27, 2017

Palazola Produce Making Fresh Deliveries for Decades

By Aisling Maki

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The Palazola name has been associated with produce in the Bluff City for more than a century.

In 1974, Mike Palazola founded M. Palazola Produce Co., a wholesaler and distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables to restaurants and institutional food service establishments in the Greater Memphis area, but his grandfather before him had delivered produce around the city out of his truck.

Today, Mike Palazola’s brothers, son, son-in-law and other family members work for the company, which employs about 100 individuals, from drivers to office personnel to those who work with processing machines in the company’s 65,000-square-foot warehouse at 2713 Chelsea Ave.

M. Palazola Produce Co. purchases fruits and vegetables from local and national producers. Its location in a logistics center within an agricultural region has had a significant impact on helping grow the business and gaining access to a large variety of producers.

“We can bring in anything you want,” said Jesse Conrad, director of sourcing and procurement, who joined the company after marrying into the Palazola family. “We can bring in products from markets on the coast, where they import. We really have access to anything given a couple of days lead time.”

One of the region's only full-service produce distributors, Palazola’s services include cutting, preparation, packaging and ripening, which gives it an edge over competitors because the company can deliver fresher product, and most deliveries are within a 150-mile radius.

The in-house pre-cutting area enables Palazola to create customized salad mixes and cut fruits and vegetables in any size or shape a customer requests. They can also custom package products in any weight that might help reduce waste or control portions.

“If people have special requests we can usually get it done that same day,” Conrad said.

Palazola Produce serves a diverse regional customer base of institutional and retail clients that range from restaurants and casinos to schools, prisons and hospitals. Customers include Shelby County Schools, Huey’s Restaurants and Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp.

Chef Patrick Reilly, owner of Majestic Grille, has been a customer of Palazola Produce since he opened his restaurant in 2006. But he was already familiar with the company, having done business with them since 2001, when he worked at the Gibson Lounge.

Reilly, who also owns The Front Porch at 251 Riverside Drive, said he enjoys doing business with Palazola because they are honest, dependable, and offer “great service, great product.”

“Good people, always ready to help,” Reilly said. “They really embrace the philosophy of vendors and restaurants being partners.”

Conrad said the company prides itself on those relationships, with some customers having been with them for decades. The company also has a reputation for providing high quality, on-time deliveries, based around customers’ schedules.

“I like to think we have better service, a personal touch, and attention to detail,” he said.

Palazola Produce also supports numerous charitable organizations throughout the Memphis area, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, Memphis Child Advocacy Center, Wolf River Conservancy, Union Mission and Mid-South Food Bank.

The company donates food for events for churches, schools and community organizations across the city.

“We’re proud of that,” Conrad said. “We want to help. We have a lot of people who need it, and it’s something we can do.”

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 56 437 16,061
MORTGAGES 76 508 18,556
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 8 56 2,461
BUILDING PERMITS 241 876 33,390
BANKRUPTCIES 64 301 10,314
BUSINESS LICENSES 15 125 5,303
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 17 125 6,273
MARRIAGE LICENSES 19 98 3,511