A native of Philadelphia, Maria has been in the food business for most of her career as a manufacturer, distributor and restaurateur. Now with Food Trade News for over 10 years, she likes to say we inform, educate and entertain. She can be reached at

The Chestnut Street Bridge connecting Center City Philadelphia and University City has just closed for a year of major repairs, but that didn’t stop Giant Heirloom Market from opening just up the street at 34th and Chestnut on August 2 to much fanfare and rave reviews. This urban format store is the second in a series of four to open in downtown Philadelphia neighborhoods. The powers that be in growth initiatives at Giant Heirloom Market tweaked the neighborhood feel of the Grey’s Ferry location and it worked! The store has a totally different vibe than the first one. It’s hip, it’s hot and it has everything the students and employees of U of P and Drexel University could possibly want, including beer and wine. The store is on two levels; the fresh/ready-to-go/HMR and beer and wine departments are on the first level, while the second level features the “Pantry,” home to center store products, including more of the dreaded fruit bowl. Be that as it may, the kombucha bar has been expanded and the coffee grinder and olive oil bars are still very popular. Store manager Angel Cordero, previously the manager at the Bainbridge Street location said, “Seeing the impressive crowd of students, professionals, and neighborhood residents that came through our doors on our opening day, our entire team is energized by the enthusiastic response we’ve already received. We’re so excited to be part of the inspiring University City community.” The location is the epicenter of University City. The hustle and bustle could be felt even in the dog days of summer. To celebrate the store opening, Giant/Martin’s made two $2,500 donations. One donation went to the University of Pennsylvania’s Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative, which helps build and sustain healthy communities by promoting nutrition education, food access and sovereignty, and physical fitness in West Philadelphia. The second donation was made to Sharing Excess, Inc., a Drexel University-based nonprofit that helps students share food excess with community members in need. To top off this big news, Giant/Martin’s also doubled down on its commitment to Philadelphia by announcing the opening of a flagship store in the second half of 2020. All this and the title of official supermarket of the Phillies…what could be next?

Earlier this month, Weis Markets announced it will begin offering products from BrightFarms, Inc., a producer of locally grown leafy greens and herbs, in its produce department. BrightFarms lettuce, which is grown sustainably in hydroponic greenhouses to supply customers with year-round local produce, will be picked at the height of freshness and delivered to Weis within 24 hours. “Weis is committed to sustainability, and to investing in our local communities; we’ve been buying our produce from local farmers for more than 100 years,” said Weis Markets’ vice president of fresh merchandising, Bob Gleeson. “Offering BrightFarms products is the best of both worlds, as they’re a local supplier with a commitment to reducing its environmental impact. We’re also proud to work with a company that has invested directly into the communities we serve in Pennsylvania.” In April, BrightFarms announced plans to construct a 250,000 square-foot greenhouse operation in Penn Township, Snyder County. The new facility will serve as one of the company’s four primary facilities in the U.S. and will utilize hydroponics to grow its greens and herbs without soil. The company will invest more than $20 million in the project, which will create 54 jobs over the next three years. BrightFarm’s hydroponic greenhouses use 80 percent less water, 90 percent less land and 90 percent less shipping fuel when compared to long-distance salad growers typically located in California or Arizona.

As fall approaches, the calendar is beginning to fill up. For the 14th year, Saint Joseph’s University’s food marketing program is hosting its annual Food Industry Summit, “The Future of the Food Industry.” This do-not-miss one-day industry event welcomes top executives from all facets of our industry as they network with food industry leaders who will share their insights regarding market trends, product innovations and new technologies that will significantly affect how we all do business. All proceeds from this event support scholarships, experiential learning opportunities, co-op education, internships and job placement for the next generation of CPG leaders from the renowned food marketing program at Saint Joseph’s University. Among the scheduled speakers are: Dan Croce, executive vice president, Sprouts Farmers Market; Matt Laukaitis, SVP and general manager, N.A. Consumer Industries, SAP; and Arist Mastorides, president, N.A. consumer tissue, Kimberly Clark. For registration questions, contact Alison Nolan at 610.660.1602 or


Four years ago, the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) launched a Food Council Leadership Development Program (FCLDP) which targets future leaders who have a passion for working in the food industry, possess an interest in the dynamics and trends of government, and who want to make a difference in the direction of this industry. The FCLDP combines elements of mentoring, organizational education, leadership training, policy trends, and guided experiences. The NJFC is now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 program. For those who are interested or if you would like to nominate someone to participate in this program, please call the NJFC office at 609.392.8899 by August 30, 2019. The current FCLDP class is scheduled to graduate at the Good Government Breakfast which will be held at the Forsgate Country Club, Monroe Township, NJ on October 2. The new class will be announced and introduced at that time.

Congratulations to Philabundance as it won the second place $100,000 grant in the economic prosperity category of the Philadelphia Foundation’s $1 Million Key to Community Grants, a first-of-its kind public grantmaking initiative in honor of Philadelphia Foundation’s centennial year of service to the region. After a rigorous application process and competitive public voting period, Philabundance is one of three winners in the economic prosperity category and one of nine total winners across three categories identified to address pressing issues throughout the greater Philadelphia region. The grant will be used toward the expansion of the Philabundance Community Kitchen (PCK), a free culinary and life-skills training program for adults with no- to low-income. The kitchen has outgrown its current location, so this grant is quite timely. The three economic prosperity grants are co-presented by Wells Fargo and the Philadelphia Foundation and are funding programs that aim to enhance paths to financial stability and success, especially for those in low- to moderate-income communities.

The Barnes Museum in Philadelphia was the location of the fairy tale wedding of Lauren Eni, Dietz & Watson, and Jose Canseco, PhD, MD, on perhaps the hottest day of the summer, July 20. No matter, the bride, daughter of Louis and Nina Eni, looked stunning as she and her prince enjoyed every minute of the festivities. After a honeymoon in Italy, the newlyweds are back at work; she at her family’s company and he at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where he is a practicing orthopedic surgeon. Auguri!


The circle of life continues as Donna and Mark Tarzwell of Mrs. T’s welcomed their new granddaughter, Grace Christine DiRomualdo, on August 1. Baby Grace and her parents, Michael and Kath Tarzwell DiRomualdo are all happy, healthy and in love! So is her big brother, Braeden. Welcome, baby Grace!

Birthday shout outs for the relaxing month of August go to: Charlie Bell, Acme Markets; Michael Bozzuto, Bozzuto’s; Marty Delinski, Acme Markets; Hans Ketels, Kings Food Markets; and Ed Rogers, L&L Brokerage. Buon compleanno a tutti!

Quote of the month: “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world,” Robin Williams as the character John Keating in “Dead Poet’s Society” (1989)

Maria can be reached at 443.631.0172 or