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 kevin@foodtradenews.com.

Greetings all and I hope this finds everyone healthy and well. COVID-19 looms over every aspect of our lives, so please proceed with caution. Wash your hands, travel smart and stealthily. Avoid risky interactions and behavior and hopefully we can get back to business in a timely and orderly manner.

Congratulations to JD Azcona, Pedro Goico and Justo Morel as their long awaited Golden Farms supermarket opened in west Philadelphia at 6710 Haverford Avenue.

The store is at the site of the former Brown’s Shop Rite and, at 54,000 square feet, the new Golden Farms will have a hot food bar, deli, bakery and large produce department and will offer multiple frozen goods and a large variety of ethnic, organic and international foods.

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“Golden Farms has an answer for all appetites,” says Azcona. “We take quality and value serious, and we’re confident our customers will love everything our store has to offer.” While the opening was delayed for a few months due to city BS, the trio and their Key Food support staff were all eager to get the doors open for business. Justo Morel has moved to Philly and will be the on-site director and has high hopes for the location. Although that means he’ll have to become a Phillies and Eagles fan. Best wishes, guys!

A couple of big industry shows occurred over the last couple of weeks and once again both delivered.

The Key Food spring/summer selling show was held at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, and as I have said before, and I‘ll say it again, if you have never attended a Key Food show, put it on your list!!!  Beyond the expected and typical show deals and networking, the Key Food gang adds a level of entertainment that pushes boundaries and borders which results in an atmosphere that never fails to make you chuckle. The show always has a theme (this year’s was “Welcome to the Jungle”) and I’m telling you, make sure you get to the next one.

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Bozzuto’s held its 2020 Independent Retailer Conference at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut. This year’s conference had a special significance as the big wholesaler celebrated its 75th anniversary. Michael Bozzuto and the entire Bozzuto’s team have demonstrated over the years that they put on possibly the best trade show and conference in the food industry, and this year was no exception.  The spring version of the show usually holds a Bozzuto’s type version of the Oscars at the extravagant dinner. This year though, the concept was more late night TV show, with a guest host and interview format and it really played well. Bozzuto, George Motel, Steve Heggelke, Dan Brock, Chris Sferuzzo, Rick Clark and Pat Houle were all interviewed and reminisced about their time and memories of Bozzuto’s through the years. It was a real enjoyable and fun evening and congrats to all.

A new C-Town Supermarket was unveiled last month at 31-18 24th Avenue in Astoria, Queens.

The store had been under construction for about a year and will span 6,500 square feet and include the usual sections, such as fresh produce and dairy. The store will also feature a deli and offer hot foods, along with grab-and-go options. The new C-Town will be owned and operated by Noor Hamdan, along with his father and six brothers. The family already runs a second C-Town in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Hamdan said the family was originally drawn to Astoria because of the neighborhood’s dedication to local businesses. “Astoria is a great business district and an established community,” Hamdan said in a statement Tuesday. “We wanted to bring a brand new C-Town to be part of this diverse community to service this great neighborhood.”

…..We now interrupt this column to remind you…..WASH YOUR HANDS. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wipe down your phone. Stay out of crowded spaces and avoid sick people. Don’t live in fear, just be smarter and more diligent in your behavior.  We now return to our regularly scheduled content……….

The Eastern Produce Council (EPC) has chosen 20 up-and-coming produce professionals for its 2020 Leadership Class, a professional development experience for those with less than 10 years of experience in the industry. The program delivers a dual-medium learning environment and the goal is to provide those selected for the program the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge from both classroom and field experience, says Susan McAleavey Sarlund, EPC executive director. Participants selected for this year’s program include: Rich Arduini and Phu Din, FreshPro Food Distributors; Sam Bartley, Aero Farms; Casey Boles, Protech Advisory Services; Andrea Brenner and Rachel Fabrizio, Four Seasons Produce; Kevin Carroll, Wonderful Citrus; Frank Ciammaruconi, Wakefern Food Corp.; Dylan Dembeck, Minkus Family Farms; Michael Harwood, New York Apple Sales; Andrew Hernandez, LGS Specialty Sales; Brian Kenny and Michael Paolino, Wakefern; Justin Kerner, Ballard Spahr LLP; Hailey Krinsky, Robinson Fresh; Mattie Leid, Hess Bros.; Annie Pape, Frank Donio Inc.; Gabrielle Procacci, Procacci Brothers; Kelsey Rose, John Vena Inc.; and Tori Wong, PRO*ACT. The 2020 program will start off in March with a visit to the Philadelphia Produce Wholesale Market (PWPM) in Philadelphia, PA, followed by Holt Cargo Systems at the Port of Gloucester, NJ. “Participants will gain first-hand knowledge of the ins and outs of these crucial logistics hubs,” says McAleavey Sarlund. In April, the group will participate in a Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) seminar aimed at presenting and discussing significant food safety issues. Combined classroom and field experiences will take place at Hionis Greenhouses in Whitehouse Station, NJ, in June, and at Rutgers’ Snyder Research Farm in Pittstown, NJ, in September. The program will wrap up with a seminar at the New York Produce Show in December.

Our best wishes for a speedy recovery go out to Mike Slattery Sr., retired from Slattery Marketing as he convalesces from emergency open heart surgery.

Good news came to Bob Cignarella and the team at RDD Associates as the big broker added several new principals to their roster over the last couple of months. In their fresh division the new companies included: Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, a handmade cheesemaker who got their start in Seattle’s Pike Place Market;  F&S Produce, provider of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables located in Vineland, NJ; John F Martin & Sons, producer of traditional  and specialty meat and cheese products, based in Stevens, PA;  Palermo Bakery, a New Jersey-based bakery offering carefully crafted desserts and known for their cupcakes and customized cakes. Over in the dairy division, RDD has added Big Dipper Cookie Dough Co., makers of all-natural, safe to eat raw cookie dough with delicious flavors all made with no chemicals, preservatives or artificial ingredients. Congratulations!

My apologies to Edward Suh of Bogopa for a little error in misidentifying him in last month’s issue. Hopefully it is not the start of “senior moment-itis” for me, and sincere thanks to Ed for his understanding.

Congratulations to Jason Ferreira and his wife Jennifer on another spectacular “Dining in the Dark” Visionary Awards Dinner.  It was the ninth annual dinner and the setting was Pier 59 on the Chelsea Piers. Over 300 guests were on hand to lend support and help raise $245,000 in the fight to cure blindness. Jason was eager and proud to share that over the nine years of holding the dinner, and thanks to the assistance of the local food industry, Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) has raised more than $2.75 million! The evening also saw Nick D’Agostino III, president of New York Food Group, be recognized as the Visionary Award Honoree. And while we are thinking about it, is there a better emcee in the food industry than Jim Ostling (JIMMY!) of Bimbo Bakeries?  If there is, I’d like to see it.

Well, that’s all for now folks. Hate to be a “Dad” again, but stay safe, stay healthy and hopefully I’ll see you soon out in the trade.

As always you can reach me at 201.250.2217 or kevin@foodtradenews.com.