Metro Beat

Kevin is VP at Food Trade News with primary responsibility for covering the Metro NY/NJ and New England markets. He has more than 30 years of experience on the CPG side of the retail food business and in media. He can be reached at

Greetings all and I hope this finds everyone enjoying the summer. Big news came to the offices of Key Food Stores with word that the Aurora Grocery group would be rolling seven more of their stores over to Key Food under the Gala Foods banner which will now total 12 Gala Foods supermarkets – six on Long Island, two in Brooklyn, two in Connecticut one in New Jersey and one in Massachusetts. A family-owned and operated company, Aurora started out more than 30 years ago operating units under the Compare Foods banner as part of the Associated Supermarket Group. Aurora currently has 23 supermarkets. The 12 aforementioned units as well as 11 locations in North Carolina.

“The wonderful thing about this transition is that all the qualities customers know and love us for, and the family-friendly atmosphere we deliberately created, is still the same,” said Jenny Jorge, general secretary for Aurora’s board of directors. “We will continue to provide the same excellent service and variety of products with our new name, plus add lots of new features to improve the customer experience.”

The newly rebranded supermarkets already have undergone major remodels of their interiors as well as technological upgrades of their POS systems. Aurora is planning more changes, including a customer loyalty program and an improved ecommerce experience that will feature a new website and, most notably, online shopping and delivery options. “Our customer is constantly evolving. As their neighborhood grocery destination, whose mission is to provide the best supermarket experience to the communities we serve, we will continue to evolve with them,” said Omar Jorge, chairman, noting that Aurora’s core values are “family, connection and contribution.”


Good luck with the transitions and stayed tuned on the North Carolina units.

We were saddened to learn of two notable recent passings in our industry. The first was the news that Jimmy Sumas, owner, operator and chairman emeritus of Village Super Market, Inc. passed away on July 7 at the age of 84. Mr. Jimmy was an icon in the industry and was a driving force in making Village Super Markets the success that it enjoys today. “Jimmy really represented the entrepreneurial family business spirit that defines Wakefern. He loved his family and associates and was passionate about the values and the importance of our cooperative. But most importantly, Jimmy loved to teach and mentor others, and he helped all of us to grow. He wanted everyone to succeed not only because he cared about the business, but also because he cared about people. Jimmy will be greatly missed here at Wakefern,” said Wakefern chairman and CEO Joseph S. Colalillo. May his soul rest in peace. The other passing which took me by surprise was learning that Russell Berg of EA Berg Associates passed away in mid-May at the much too early age of 57. Russell was the chief operating officer and one of the three owners of EA Berg Associates along with his brothers David and Michael. The confectionery and food broker business was started by his grandfather Edward in 1923 and continued by his father Harry and his uncle Edward. Russell was a proud member of the Candy Hall of Fame and was very well known throughout the confectionery industry. He leaves behind his wife Pamela and sons Daniel, Adam and Ethan, as well as parents Florence and Harry and many extended family members and EA Berg

Associates. Anyone wishing to make a donation in his name can do so to the John Theurer Cancer Center, c/o Hackensack University Medical Center, 30 Prospect Ave., Hackensack NJ, 07601. Eternal rest grant unto him and may his soul rest in peace.


A couple of big happenings in the Bronx occurred over the last few weeks. Fresh Direct finally opened its new facility in the Mott Haven section at 2 St. Ann’s Avenue. The 400,000 square-foot facility consolidates the company’s food manufacturing and distribution operations that were once spread across three buildings in Long Island City. FreshDirect had outgrown its Queens location and considered relocating to New Jersey, but former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration gave the company nearly $130 million in tax breaks and subsidies to move to the Bronx instead. “While our customers pay our bills, our employees get the work done,” said FreshDirect CEO and co-founder, Jason Ackerman. The environmentally friendly and energy-efficient campus is also equipped with robotic pick towers, smart routing technologies and nine miles of conveyor belts. The new facility “enables FreshDirect to transition from cardboard delivery boxes to recyclable bags. There will also be less food waste through a combined approach of innovation and community outreach,” according to a release from the company. The campus is temperature controlled for specific grocery departments such as meat, deli and bakery, along with a specific freezer room for premium ice cream.

“The launch of the FreshDirect campus is the culmination of 16 years of learnings that have enabled us to reinvent the grocery industry with customer experience, food quality, and sustainability at its core,” continued Ackerman. “This marks a pivotal moment for our business, while positioning us for future growth. We can also better serve the community by providing greater access to fresh food and significantly reducing food waste, cardboard use, and energy consumption. We are thrilled to officially be a part of the Bronx community and are very thankful for the local support we’ve received throughout this journey.”

And, also in the Bronx, Walmart said it will open a new fulfillment center there in order to bring same-day and next-day delivery to New York City. The facility will house Jet merchandise exclusively, including groceries and select general merchandise. The fulfillment center will also create hundreds of jobs, the company said and a third-party service, Parcel, will help with deliveries.

Congratulations to Chex Finer Foods of Mansfield, MA on the completion of a 20,000 square foot expansion of its warehouse and headquarters. The expansion will increase the depth and assortment of the products and services Chex offers to its customers throughout the East Coast. “Chex has a long-term outlook in how we manage our business. Taking on this additional space helps both support our current business, but moreover allows us to have the resources to deliver on our future growth. We are looking at a second space next door to create even more capacity for us and our customers,” said Jeremy Isenberg, company president.

We heard from Jim Gorman of ESM/Ferolie who wanted to remind everyone that the CIFI annual charity golf outing will take place on August 13 at The Engineers Club in Roslyn Harbor, Long Island. There are still some spots left for golf and the group could use some more raffle prizes for the event. For more information contact Jim at or 201.949.2232.

And, as we were going to press King Kullen announced several executive promotions. Richard Conger has been promoted to VP-perishables. Conger previously served as director of produce/meat/seafood and deli and in his new role will report to co-president Brian Cullen. Tracey Cullen has been named VP-marketing. She previously served as director of pricing and social media and in her new role will report to SVP and chief merchandising officer Joseph W. Brown. Robert Jandovitz has been promoted to VP-human resources. Jandovitz was formerly director of human resources at King Kullen and will report to co-president J. Donald Kennedy. James Leary was promoted to VP and controller-operations. Leary previously served as director of accounts payable and will report to Kennedy. And Elizabeth Ostrove has been promoted to VP and controller-finance. Ostrove previously served as director of accounting and will also report to Kennedy. Congratulations to all.

Well that’s it for now everyone. Enjoy your summer and I hope to see you at some point over the next few weeks. As always you can reach me at 201.250.2217 or .