DANBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s no secret independent restaurants struggled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But, now, the nonprofit Pan Gregorian of New England is helping small business owners compete against large franchises and national chains. 

Doug Polistena, who owns the Amber Room Colonnade in Danbury, said his catering business hosts hundreds of people. Connecting with manufacturers and distributors at an expo on Monday is helping him fight rising food costs.

“It allows us to get bulk pricing, and really get the best possible deal that we can get,” Polistena said.

He said that’s important because he can’t forecast food prices.

“In the catering world, you’re booking things sometimes a year out,” Polistena said. “It’s hard to give a price and lock in a price if you don’t know what the food costs are going to be.”

Jim Tzepos, president of Pan Gregorian of New England, said the group unites more than 260 members to help them cut costs and boost business. 

“A lot of our members are not aware of our programs because we’re not made up from the same cookie-cutter mold,” he said. “One is a diner, one is a pizza place, one is a deli — and you have different needs.”

Those needs range from dishwasher supplies to food containers to help with social media. 

Deluxa Restaurants develops websites and marketing plans. 

“The big franchises are spending a lot of money, and they have really good technology and have marketing teams,” said Neri Gudaitis, who owns Deluxa Restaurants. “So, if you don’t do [any marketing] really nothing happens.”

Pan Gregorian of New England said the average member saves more than $5,000 on rebates alone. And the more members it has, the more power it has.

The nonprofit is always looking for new members. To join, visit pg-ne.com or call (203) 389-6115.