Metro Beat

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Well, once again the Key Food gang put on their annual vendor summit and it lived up to all the expectations that everyone has come to expect. With the palpable energy of a Springsteen

concert, the overflow crowd of more than 900 attendees was eager to hear what CEO/president Dean Janeway, COO George Knobloch and integrated marketing and PR manager Michele Gissi would offer up.

Many in the audience anticipated the usual cutting, irreverent and confident remarks from the power duo of Dean and George (and, yes, those comments were tossed out there, and the remarks were like the back of the hand to their adversaries). However, the program had a laser-focused quality that was truly amazing. The country’s #1 growth supermarket company is in the finishing stages of putting together a unique NYC 5 Boro Market Module with I.R.I. that will increase focus on the five boroughs and deliver insights to the uniqueness of the NYC marketplace that have never existed. I can’t wait to see what the view will offer.

Also, Dean stated that while Key Food is within striking range of 300 stores (they stand at 272) their real goal is to be at 400+ stores within the next four to five years, and I don’t think there was anybody in the room that doubted him. Congrats again on a terrific and informative summit and for the full detailed analysis of the summit turn to Taking Stock on page 1.

We were so sorry to hear that Serafin Cruz passed away on January 31 after a long battle with cancer. Serafin was one of the finest, most “stand-up” individuals in the industry and many remember him from his tenure at White Rose Foods and prior to that Goya before recently being associated with Vel-Mac Foods. Serf had a unique style of always remaining calm in the hectic back and forth of this industry and was always ready with a smile. He was just plain steady. He is survived by his wife Maureen, his mother Caridad, his son Robert de Jesus, daughters Alexsa Ribler and Veronica Corzo-Duchardt and five grandchildren. Sorry to see another petal from the (White) Rose go. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Mark your calendars for a nice industry wide event. The Friends of the Food Industry will hold its annual Helping Friends of the Food Industry get together on May 21 at Hackensack golf club in Oradell, NJ. This year’s honoree will be George Knobloch, COO of Key Food Stores, and the group will extend Lifetime Achievement awards to Jody Avallone of Nestle/Edy’s and Murray Kalinsky of Advantage Solutions. This is always a jam packed event so make sure you order tickets online at

Key Food unveiled its newest location, an 18,000 square foot new-build store, Brooklyn Market. The store is right off of the Saw Mill River Parkway in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County, NY and is a nice upscale gourmet market. Owned and operated by Nasri Abed and Mahmoud Elayyan, the store will offer customers a large selection of organic groceries, a large meat department with a variety of organic and grass-fed options, and a dairy department with organic eggs and glass bottle milk. The cheese department provides options from all over the world and the deli department has a large prepared foods section with catering options. An in-store pizzeria and a fresh baked bread are sure to entice the local customers. “I’m so excited to be a part of the Dobbs Ferry community,” said Elayyan. “Our goal is to provide our customers with an upscale grocery shopping experience complete with the highest quality of products.”

“We’re thrilled for Brooklyn Market to expand our family of supermarkets and service the Dobbs Ferry community,” said Key Food vice president of business development John Durante.

“Mahmoud and his team have worked so hard to create a gourmet grocery store that is sure to exceed shoppers’ expectations.”

Krasdale Foods added a rising star to its staff as John Borzumato has joined the White Plains, NY based wholesaler as director of new business development. John joins Krasdale from Associated Supermarket Group where he served as vice president of sales and prior to that was senior director of independent sales at C&S Wholesale Grocers. In his new position he will be reporting to Dennis Wallin, VP-business development for Alpha 1 Marketing.

And congratulations to Angela DeCicco as she was named vice president of sales at Shelfmint, a new start-up online exchange for retailers looking to source and purchase food and beverage brands directly from the vendor, eliminating the need for a distributor. Angela comes to Shelfmint from America’s Food Basket where she served as vice president of merchandising and prior to that was at Associated Supermarket Group and White Rose Foods in management positions. Good luck Ang!

RDD is marking a big milestone this year as they will be celebrating their 20th anniversary. Further, the Totowa, NJ based sales and marketing agency will be adding a Charlotte, NC branch,

RDD Southeast, LLC. Bob Cignarella, president/CEO of RDD Associates, said that longtime industry veteran Joe Cervantes will head up the venture as general manager. Joe will report to senior vice president Dan Cignarella and will be joined in Charlotte by Jim Ledford, RDD southeast account manager, who has more than 30 years of experience selling in the southeast market.

RDD provides a complete portfolio of integrated services to its trading partners; business management, account management, retail continuity merchandising, business insights and analytics, brand financial administration and customer service/order entry. RDD Southeast will replicate the same best-in-class service solution to provide clients and retail partners comprehensive, “full-service” coverage with all major supermarket chains, grocery independents and supply chain partners across region.

In 2015, RDD Associates, in collaboration with affiliate partner agencies Star/Pro-Star Sales & Marketing and Matrix Sales & Marketing, announced the formation of RSM – Regional Sales Solutions. Together, the RSM members provide a perishables-focused sales and merchandising solution across the Metro New York, Mid-Atlantic and New England regions, while providing clients seamless headquarters and retail coverage across all Ahold USA and Delhaize division brands. With the formation of RDD Southeast, RSM offers an integrated sales agency solution from Maine to Florida and a comprehensive solution for all of the Ahold Delhaize brands, to now include Food Lion. For further information on RDD Southeast you can reach Joe Cervantes at 607.727.7077 or

Quick Chek is ramping up their store openings throughout the area and we have learned that three new locations are on the horizon for the Whitehouse, NJ based c-store operator. Copiague, Long Island is set to open next month and will feature the company’s new “Fresh Convenience Market” concept. It will be the third location on Long Island for Quick Chek, joining Lake Grove and Bethpage. The company also has plans set for a Commack store and a location in Jamesburg, NJ. Quick Chek currently operates 154 stores.

Brian Todd, president of The Food Institute, will be part of a full day conference on March 1, “How PE Firms are Expanding their Portfolios by Reviving Legacy Brands & Building New Ones.” The event will feature 20 food and nutrition company execs who will share their perspectives and lessons learned. These expert speakers will participate in an in-depth discussion on how PE investors are changing their due diligence strategies, switching up what subsectors they’re investing in and trying to stay disciplined on price as they manage investments in a sector going through unprecedented change. To register at a special rate call Julie Berger at 212.832.7300 or email her at

The Connecticut Food Association (CFA) announced that Tracy Moore, senior vice president of non-perishable procurement, merchandising, marketing and supply chain trade relations at C&S

Wholesale Grocers, has been named its 2018 Person of the Year. Wayne Pesce, president of CFA told us “We are grateful to have Tracy Moore and C&S as valued members of our association who are dedicated to promoting the growth of Connecticut’s retail grocery community.” The CFA Person of the Year dinner will be held on Thursday October 20 at the Mohegan Sun Ballroom. For more information go to

Well as I write this, it is 75 degrees outside, so hopefully spring will come early, and I’ll look forward to seeing you out in the field. As always you can reach me at or 201.250.2217.