Metro Beat

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Will Spring ever arrive in the Northeast?? As I formulate some notes from the past month, our overnight temperatures have again dipped into the below freezing range! Fortunately, though, a true sign that spring and warmer weather are on the horizon as the Eastern Frosted Refrigerated Foods (EFRA) golf outing once again kicked off the metro area golf season as it always does. The Upper Montclair Country Club golf course was full of hardy souls braving the cold weather (as they do most years), but it seems as though they always “take one for the team” as once this event passes the nicer weather is right around the corner.

Wawa opened its northernmost store in New Jersey at the end of April when they debuted a new location and gas station in Elizabeth, NJ at 595 Spring Street. The day was celebrated with speeches, contests, giveaways, and free coffee. Chris Gheysens, president and CEO of Wawa, said the company has for years focused on southern and central New Jersey, and that now “it just makes a lot of sense to continue north.” He remarked about the new store, saying, “We’ve had to do some things with our business model to be able to fit on a site like this here in Elizabeth. There’s a market here that really will appreciate the Wawa brand.” Gheysens said the company’s ability to expand is in large part due to Wawa’s core mission statement, which is “Clean, fast and friendly.” The site joins the Wawa store that opened in January in Kearny, NJ and the company plans to open a third North Jersey unit in the Avenel section of Woodbridge this summer. Additionally, Wawa will be opening in Lodi and Hackensack in 2013 with plans to open ten more stores by the end of 2015.

The largest crowd in the past six years showed up at the Aqua Turf club in Plantsville, CT for the annual Connecticut Food Association (CFA) Hall of Fame dinner. More than 400 guests were on hand to witness Liz Chace-Marino of Ahold USA, Todge Armata of Ted’s IGA and Ross Hollander of Hartford Distributors be recognized by their peers for their service and commitment to the food industry in Connecticut. Kudos to Stan Sorkin of the CFA and his staff for putting on a first class affair.

And while we’re mentioning the Connecticut food scene, congratulations to George Motel of Bozzuto’s and his wife Judy and son George Jr. on a winning sweep of several wine categories in the CFA’s 2013 product awards competition. The Motel family owns and operates Sunset Meadow Vineyards in Goshen, CT and has been racking up awards year after year, and 2013 was no exception. George invites anyone in the area to stop by for a tasting and I think I’ll take him up as soon as I’m back in the area!

A new Key Food banner was unveiled on Staten Island when the Grobman and Gross families opened a spectacular Dan’s Supreme unit on Arden Avenue at the site of a former and long-closed King Kullen. The 38,000 square foot store is the ninth store for Dan’s Supreme, and adds to their other location on SI. “We’ve always enjoyed being on Staten Island, and we were looking for a suitable site for quite some time” stated Rich Grobman, president. A full gathering of local politicos, Key Food associates and the vendor community turned out to witness the ribbon cutting ceremony and tour the fabulous store which will be managed by John Geyer, Howard Mangold and Jodi Podnos.

A tip of the cap to Mike and Karen Waldon of Empire Food Marketing on their recent sizeable donation to Team LeGrand/The Christopher Reeve Foundation to help in the efforts to find a cure for spinal cord injuries. At a luncheon in Woodbridge, NJ, food industry executives were treated to an uplifting and never say quit attitude from an engaging young man, Eric LeGrand. Eric was a Rutgers football player who was paralyzed from the neck down during a game in October of 2010. While he has made tremendous strides in his recovery, he still isn’t walking, but has an infectious attitude that brightens up a room and all that he encounters. Along with his family and friends he created Team LeGrand of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which was created to fund research for spinal cord injury and improve the quality of life for people living with paralysis. And in a never-ending example of what a small world we all live in; one of the guests in attendance was none other than Joe Sheridan of Wakefern Food Corp. Joe shared a little tidbit that his first direct report when he started his career with Wakefern was none other than…. Eric LeGrand’s grandfather….needless to say an instant bond was formed with Joe, Eric and Eric’s mom Karen. Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund can go to www.christopherreeve.org.