SOUP TO NUTZ

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 maria@foodtradenews.com.

It’s not every day a family-run, ESOP retailer celebrates its 50th birthday with the third generation at the helm. We at Food Trade News are honored to kick off Redner’s Markets’ celebration of 50 years serving communities in eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware with a special section! Visiting the corporate offices and then all 44 stores plus many Quick Shoppes, one comes to understand the corporate culture the Redner family has fostered for many years, beginning with founder Earl “The Chief” Redner. You will read about it in the section from the perspectives of those who have worked for the company for years, some for a lifetime. The Redners treat everyone like they are family and with respect, just the way they would want to be treated. Many store employees told us they “came with the building” meaning they started with the company when the doors to their store opened. Others began as stock clerks and are now in management. The stories are compelling. Sean Ferguson, whose infamous father Pat started with “The Chief” back in 1970 as the manager of the first store, now works at the retailer. Sean is the store director at the Boyertown location and says it’s like working with family. His father worked for Redner’s for 38 years. It’s this kind of loyalty that makes Redner’s not only unique, but almost an anomaly, especially in these times. Looking forward, there are many remodels coming to both the Fresh Markets and Warehouse Markets concepts. Plus, Redner’s has just announced plans for their 45th store (a Redner’s Fresh Market) in Lewes, DE.  Already established in Sussex county, DE, with stores in Georgetown and Milford, this new location will be 49,000 square feet and will be located within the Vineyards at Nassau Valley, a mixed-used community close to the Delaware beaches and Delaware’s first and largest award-winning vineyard of the same name.

This project was a group effort on both Redner’s and Food Trade News’ part. First to Ryan and Gary Michael, “the boys,” as I have affectionately named them, a huge thank you for putting the seal of approval for us to go forward with this project. To Eric White, Redner’s marketing director and our liaison, thanks for answering emails, phone calls and questions and helping us with the many moving parts during the process. As for our team, thanks to Karen Fernandez for covering stores and conducting some interviews; to Terri Maloney for her depth of experience, knowledge and guidance as the section came together, and to the E-Ink team for making the special section, well, special! With all of these plans in place, and the boys firmly in control, the future looks bright so Dick and Elaine Redner can enjoy the fruits of their labor, their grandchildren and some well-deserved time off. Happy 50th Birthday, Redner’s!

As the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) enters its second half century, Joe Sofia, Wegmans Markets’ New Jersey vice president, has taken over the reigns as chairman of the board. Sofia was installed for a three-year term with his officers: vice chairman Andrew Kent, Glass Gardens; associate vice chair, Mike Biase, Mission Foods; treasurer Mike Rothwell, Pennington Market; secretary Suzanne DelVecchio, QuickChek Corporation; and NJFC president Linda Doherty. NJFC board members were also installed at the NJFC’s annual meeting, held at Forsgate Country Club in Cranbury, NJ on January 30. They will most certainly carry on the work of this diligent group, working tirelessly for retailers in the state of New Jersey. The next event, the Night of Distinction, will honor DelVecchio; Daniel Dinkowitz, Allegiance Retail Services; and Paul Patten, Wakefern Food Corporation. For more information, please go to our trade calendar on page 2 of this issue as well as online at www.foodtradenews.com.

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A tip of the hat to Joe Atchison, who has been named director of marketing and development for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, his dream job. Well deserved, Joe! Congratulations!

Philadelphia broker Jay Gordon of SMP is recovering from a bad bout with pneumonia. After a hospital stay, Jay will be in rehab for the next few weeks. He would love to hear from his food industry friends. Sending good vibes to you, Jay! Get well soon.

Who says love at first sight can’t last forever? Bill Carter of Knauss Foods and his lovely wife Dori celebrated 50 years of blissful marriage on January 31. Married at the tender age of 19, these “kids” are celebrating in style with a bucket list trip to Hawaii this month. Bets wishes…and Aloha!

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The circle of life continues as a couple of our favorite people have become grandparents recently. Mike Biase of Mission Foods and his wife welcomed their first grandson, James Michaelangelo Harkel, into the world on February 1. Late in 2019, Louis Scaduto, Food Circus Supermarkets and his wife also welcomed their first granddaughter, Elin Scaduto, into the world. Everyone is doing well, mothers and babies included. And their grandfathers are over the moon sharing photos of these cutie pies. Congratulations all around!

Birthday shout outs for the red-hot month of February go to: Judy Spires, Kings Food Markets/Balducci’s; Sandra Sage, Clemens Food Group; Guy Giordano, Vincent Giordano Corp.; Reggie Sanders, Johanna Foods; Ed Symbouras, Specialty Fabricators; Neil Brassell, Bard Valley Date Company; BJ Zellers, TKE Communications; Bill Schlosky, Utz Snacks; my partner in schmooze and shenanigans, Kevin Gallagher; and special birthday hugs to my daughter, Rosalie Marfuggi, Atalanta Corporation.

Quote of the month: “Don’t choke on your own prejudices.” Earl “The Chief” Redner