Metro Beat

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Well, the early spring show/conference/dinner season is upon us and it has been terrific getting out to the events and reconnecting with many of you from my new position here at Food Trade News. Thanks to those of you whom I have seen for your overwhelmingly kind words and wishes they truly mean a lot. And as the events keep coming, I look forward to seeing the many of you that I haven’t connected with yet!

Hurricane Sandy and the damage left in its wake four months ago was truly devastating to our area, but the nightmare that it created has also led to many wonderful tales of goodwill from within our industry. I know there are far too many stories that I can reference here in this space, but a few jumped out at me for their acts of kindness which it seems our industry can always be relied on to deliver. Witness Kevin Mannix and his team at Mannix Family ShopRites of Staten Island. Staten Island may have been the worst hit area in the metro market and, in response, the Mannix family has teamed up with Wagner College and the Staten Island Advance to establish a goal of donating 25 tons of food by year’s end to Project Hospitality. Project Hospitality is a non-profit that feeds and helps the thousands of distressed residents in the borough. Well done Mannix family! Bruce Both, president of UFCW Local 1500, told us that the International UFCW established a Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund to provide vital financial support for the any of the nearly 200,000 UFCW members living in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. While more than 200 local members were able to access that financial aid, Bruce was equally as pleased to inform us that union members throughout the region were dedicating and donating their spare time and resources to helping communities recover from the devastation. And kudos to A&P for its continued assistance to the Jersey shore in its recovery. The Tea Company’s Ortley Beach location is donating space to the Salvation Army so they can assist area residents through their relief center. Non-perishables, blankets, bedding, cleaning supplies, etc. are offered to residents who proved proof of residency in an affected area. And finally, mega kudos to Howie Glickberg and the entire executive team at Fairway Markets. When their Red Hook location, which sits on the banks of New York Harbor, was obliterated by the storm, not only did Fairway contribute food, clothing and assistance to local residents, they kept every one of their 300-plus employees on the payroll. Employees were provided transportation to other Fairways in the region to work part-time while the three month reconstruction process took place at the Red Hook site. Well done all!

Has anyone noticed that Wal-Mart has sharpened its advertising focus against specific competitors for the first time in this area? Recently on an alternating weekly basis, the big Bentonville retailer has targeted ShopRite and Stop & Shop in a print/radio advertising campaign with a shopping basket analysis. It’s something we really haven’t seen in these parts from Wal-Mart and could be a precursor for more to come.

Congratulations to Harry Garafalo and his family on the news that they will be opening their fifth ShopRite this fall in the town of East Haven, CT. The site is a former A&P location which closed in October 2010 and will join the Garafalo’s other locations in Milford, Stratford, West Haven and Hamden. And while we’re speaking of Connecticut, old friend and current Connecticut Food Association executive director Stan Sorkin reminded us that April 23 will be the CFA’s Hall of Fame Dinner at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville, CT. This year’s inductees will be Todge Armata of Ted’s IGA, Liz Chace-Marino of Ahold USA and Ross Hollander of Hartford Distributors.

The Eastern Produce Council will be holding its rescheduled 45th annual dinner dance on April 13 at the Hanover Marriott in Whippany, NJ. This year’s event will recognize Art Brown Jr., former New Jersey Department of Agriculture director with the Lifetime Achievement Award as well as induct Joe DeLorenzo of Alpha-1 Marketing into its Hall of Fame.

There is an interesting first time event coming to New Jersey on May 15 that you may want to check out. The Food & Beverage Forum CEO Best Practice Summit will be held at the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange. This has been a successful event over the last 10 years held out on Long Islandby the former firm of Biscotti-Toback. When that firm was acquired by the big global financial firm WeiserMazars LLP, one immediate thought was to expand the highly successful event to other areas. It is a terrific evening of networking and panel discussion among high level executives in the food industry and the program will feature speakers, Bob Unanue of Goya, Robert Tillis of Imperial Bag & Paper and a yet to be announced third speaker. New Jersey Food Council’s Linda Doherty will be the moderator for the evening

Anybody looking for a seasoned retail executive with extensive sales, procurement and operations background should give Barry Sherman a ring. Barry tells us he would welcome any opportunities to help drive results and you can reach him at 516.320.0670.

Fresh off the distinction of being chosen as NYC’s launch for its Shop Healthy Initiative, Jose Perez’s C-Town in the Belmont section of the Bronx got a hip makeover. Jose expanded his store from 7,500 square feet  to 12,000 square feet with not only healthy offerings but a vast array of American and ethnic fare. The store at the corner of Crescent Ave and East 187th Street truly epitomizes the “melting pot” concept that is NYC, and anyone in the area should stop by and see it.

Congratulations to Matt O’Hare of JOH Companies on his marriage to Melanie Donnelly on March 16 in Healdsburg, CA, in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Proud dad Chip O’Hare tells us that he and his wife Bobbi couldn’t be happier with their new daughter-in-law. Matt and Melanie will honeymoon inVietnam before heading back home toMassachusetts. Comhghairdeas!

Way to go to everyone involved at Bozzuto’s for putting together one of the best selling shows on the East Coast. Michael Bozzuto and his entire team did not miss a detail in ensuring that their customers, vendors and all attendees were treated like dignitaries while at the event, which was held at the MGM Grand-Foxwoods. As mentioned earlier, it was great seeing many old and new friends at events and the Bozzuto’s extravaganza was no exception. It was interesting chatting with Spencer An of Bogopa/Food Bazaar while there and I can’t wait to see the growth and expansion planned for the coming year with theBrooklyn, NY based 17 unit chain.

Thanks again everyone for all the well wishes that keep pouring in and you can reach me at 201-250-2217 or kgallagher@best-met.com. See you soon!