Small Business Spotlight

Small Business Summer Spotlights: Fighting Food Insecurity With 3 Guys from Brooklyn



May 12, 2023

This summer, Instacart is celebrating small businesses with our Small Business Summer Spotlights series. We know small businesses are the heart of their communities, and we’re proud to help them thrive and grow. Every Friday, we’ll introduce you to one of our many small business partners, so check back each week for the latest installment.

For over three decades and spanning three generations, open-air produce market, 3 Guys from Brooklyn, has cemented itself as a beloved institution in Brooklyn, renowned for providing the freshest produce and groceries in town. At the heart of their mission lies a steadfast commitment to serving the community by making high-quality food accessible to all who call the neighborhood home. With an alarming 1.5 million New York City residents experiencing food insecurity, 3 Guys from Brooklyn is dedicated to doing everything possible to ensure their customers can put nourishing meals on the table.

As a part of our Small Business Summer Spotlight series, we had the privilege of sitting down with Philip Penta, the owner of 3 Guys, to learn more about the origins of the business, the role that Instacart has played in supporting its growth, and the ways in which the company is doubling down on its efforts to promote food security.

What was the inspiration behind the founding of 3 Guys and how has the company evolved since its establishment in 1975? 

Our founding inspiration was rooted in our commitment to being an environmentally and socially responsible business that benefits our community. Over the years, we’ve made a lot of changes to our processes and operations to help us achieve this goal.

One of the things we’re most proud of is our focus on fighting food insecurity and making fresh produce more accessible to people in need. We’ve set up some pretty impressive waste reduction facilities and started initiatives like the Pink Card program to help people out. And since so much of what we sell is perishable, we break down all the organic waste on-site and only work with environmentally responsible partners. We’ve also partnered with Instacart to allow EBT SNAP customers access to affordable, fresh produce. This partnership ensures that everyone, including the most vulnerable members of our community, is able to get the healthy foods they need.

Now, when I first joined the team, we were doing things the old-fashioned way – using white and black notebooks and the backs of paper bags to keep track of everything. Our charitable efforts were pretty limited too – we were mostly just donating to schools and participating in walks or food pantries without much organization. But we’ve come a long way since then. We’ve developed new methods that allow us to make a bigger impact on the community we serve, and we’re always looking for ways to improve.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

For me, the most rewarding part of our work is seeing our ideas actually come to life and make a difference. Even though we definitely face our fair share of challenges – from regulations to finances to unexpected setbacks – we’re driven by that feeling you get when you see something you’ve worked so hard on start to take shape.

It’s that little 5% of the time when everything comes together and we’re able to leverage technology and networking to overcome obstacles and create real impact in our community. I think what really motivates us is our sense of responsibility to the world around us. We’re really passionate about making fresh produce more accessible, especially in areas where it can be hard to find nutritious food.

It’s not just about doing the right thing socially and environmentally, although that’s a big part of it. It’s also about setting an example and showing that businesses can prioritize responsibility and still be successful. I truly believe that this mindset is what will help create a better, more sustainable future for all of us.

How has Instacart helped you run and grow your business? 

Our partnership with Instacart has been a game-changer for us. It’s helped us reach a wider range of customers, expand our inventory, and streamline our processes. One of the biggest benefits of working with Instacart has been the implementation of the EBT SNAP program. This has made it possible for our customers to order groceries using SNAP benefits and receive same-day delivery. For instance, if a customer spends $40 on just qualified EBT goods at our store, they can receive 10 bags of groceries, compared to possibly receiving only 5 bags elsewhere.

During the pandemic, when things were really uncertain for everyone, working with Instacart allowed us to quickly onboard and connect with more customers. And their Pickup service became an invaluable resource, providing a convenient in-store solution for customers seeking a swift and hassle-free experience. 

Overall, we’ve found that leveraging technology has been essential to our success. We’re now able to sign customers up for our services directly in-store using iPads, which saves us a lot of time and makes things more efficient. We’ve also been able to use spreadsheets and automation tools to manage our inventory and update prices more effectively, which has helped us cut back on labor and streamline our processes.

What’s next for 3 Guys? 

Looking ahead, there’s so much more we want to do to help address the critical issues of food and security. There are numerous organizations out there that we haven’t yet had the opportunity to connect with, and we’re excited about exploring those possibilities. Inflation has been taking a toll on people’s lives, and there’s a pervasive economic squeeze that we’re determined to counteract. We’re exploring ways to stabilize and lower expenses, and technology will undoubtedly play a key role in that effort.

Additionally, we’re committed to enhancing the customer experience in our store. We want to modernize and incorporate technology to streamline our operations and promote energy savings. Overall, we’re excited about the future and are committed to continuing our journey as a socially responsible and sustainable business.

Learn more about 3 Guys from Brooklyn here, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram. To shop same-day delivery from 3 Guys from Brooklyn via Instacart, click here. To learn more about Instacart Platform and our work on bringing local retailers and grocers online, visit


Previous Small Business Summer Spotlight: Building a Strong Brand With Slate Milk



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