Soup To Nutz

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It’s October and it’s supposed to be crisp and cool. This year, however, there’s no frost on the pumpkins yet and no October baseball for Philadelphia or New York; even the football season is lackluster. The Flyers have a new coach and the NBA doesn’t tip off until the end of the month. However, the weather has been beautiful, so the fall outdoor activities have had a great kickoff. But honestly, who wants to pick pumpkins in flip flops and shorts in 80 degree weather?

The Philadelphia market was busy recently as Wakefern’s 50th member, the Fresh Grocer, unveiled its new name, the ShopRite of Drexeline, and showcased many ShopRite offerings.  The 44,000 square foot store, with strong ties to the community for more than 30 years will continue to offer its loyal customers a vast selection of fresh and locally sourced produce; freshly prepared meal selections and brick oven pizza; a full-service meat department; a full-service bakery with custom cakes, pastries and bread; a full-service deli department; fresh seafood market; and natural, organic and gluten-free products in every department of the store. In addition, the store will now provide customers with ShopRite’s broad portfolio of private label products and thousands of new sale items each week. One new feature that the new ShopRite will bring to the Drexeline community is ShopRite from Home online shopping service. Customers can place their orders online and pick them up at their convenience or have them delivered directly to their home. As a part of its new look, ShopRite of Drexeline has been outfitted with the latest energy-saving technologies in refrigeration as well as environmentally-friendly LED and T-8 lighting systems. “We are delighted to continue our service to our Drexeline neighbors with the addition of the ShopRite banner to our beloved store,” Patrick J. Burns, president and CEO of The Fresh Grocer and owner of the ShopRite of Drexeline. “We remain committed to providing our customers with the best fresh and prepared foods, now at ShopRite’s traditional low prices. We are so grateful to the community for their continued support and look forward to welcoming them to the new ShopRite of Drexeline.”  I hear sales are way up since the changeover.

Giant/Carlisle officially marked its 90th anniversary on October 4 at its hometown store in Carlisle, PA close to where David Javitch opened the first Carlisle Meat Market 90 years ago. Giant president Rick Herring was on hand to cut the birthday cake and talk about Giant’s commitment to give the community “the best products at a fair price,” just as Mr. Javitch had promised to his customers. This celebration marked the culmination of 90 days of giving throughout the grocer’s local communities with a $9,000 donation to Project SHARE, an interfaith, non-profit cooperative effort, based in Carlisle, created to meet the needs of the hungry by providing supplementary food and nutritional education on a monthly basis. Giant is the third largest employer in the state of Pennsylvania with more than 27,000 employees. Happy Birthday!

We all know the government shutdown has affected many Americans around the globe. Acme Markets has stepped up to help those who serve our country in the military. In light of the October 2 government shutdown, a number of military commissaries and post exchanges (PXs) throughout the country are temporarily closed, impacting military personnel and their families. From October 6-10, all Acme stores hosted Military Discount Days and families presenting a valid military identification card at the time of check-out received a 10 percent discount on their grocery bill.  “Acme wants to support our military families,” emphasized Jim Perkins, president of Acme. “This is our way of thanking our active duty and reserve service men and women for the sacrifices they and their families make every day in serving our country.” Good work, Acme!

Wawa has entered the New York Metro market with its first store in Bergen County, NJ. The Lodi, NJ store opened on October 5 and is the retailer’s 237th store in New Jersey and the first of many to come in North Jersey, an untapped area for the Wawa chain. The new concept store gives customers what one Wawa store general manager calls, “fast, casual to go with world class convenience.” Indeed, this is not your everyday, legacy Wawa. I wrote about the new concept making its debut in Florida a few months ago, but didn’t expect to see it up in the Northeast so soon. It will take a little getting used to by veteran Wawa customers, but this new store concept is certainly the future of Wawa. Sal Mattera, Wawa’s vice president of operations, gave the crowd some astounding facts about this privately held company: more than one billion customers served; 70 million custom made sandwiches are made annually; they operate 630 stores in six states; they are an ESOP company with ten thousand employees holding 39 percent ownership in Wawa; there is a $6 million investment to open a new Wawa; and by Memorial Day 2014, all New Jersey stores will have lottery machines. As was expected, many donations to local charities and first responders were made, including one to Lodi mayor, Marc Schrieks who accepted three $1,000 scholarships for academic excellence for high school seniors in Lodi.

The DelawareValley office of Acosta has moved. Please note the new address: 3930 B Commerce Avenue, Willow Grove, PA19090. The phone and fax numbers remain the same.

In what was probably one of the last golf outings of the season, Uplift Solutions’ rescheduled outing was worth the wait. The day was perfect for the crowd of more than 75 golfers to get in a little exercise before the leaves start to fall. Bob Richards of Stonkleen Maintenance got a hole in one on the thirrd hole of the North Course at the Philmont Country Club. It was his first and yes, there were witnesses. Congratulations! As an aside, Uplift Solutions provided all the training for the new employees at Fare & Square in Chester.

Tommy Kovacevich of TMK Produce and a team of his friends from the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM), aptly named the Produce Pedalers, joined more than 9,000 other bicyclists in the Multiple Sclerosis MS City to Shore Ride 2013. Mike Watson, Dan Kane, Ray Manos and Tommy rode 103.5 miles on September 29 to fight for a cure for MS in the City to Shore Ride. Overall, about $5.5 million was raised at this event. Good going guys!

The New Jersey Food Council has announced the launch of the Loss Prevention Scholarship Program. This year, there are five scholarships available for loss prevention professionals who are members of NJFC. Administered by the Loss Prevention Foundation, LPCertified and LPQualified courses are considered the benchmark of loss prevention training and can be completed online. Loss prevention professionals must apply by October 18, 2013 to be considered for a scholarship. For more information call 609.392.8899.

The circle of life continues as we at Best-Met Publishing say goodbye to one of our own, William Henry Speakman 3rd, who passed away on October 8. He was 73 years young. Bill was our business manager and secretary-treasurer, but he was so much more. Although he resided in Virginia, he is from Abington, PA and had very strong ties to the Philadelphia area. He and I had a kindred spirit in our education, he went to the George School and I went to Friends Select School, both venerable Quaker institutions.  When I moved to a town in Bucks County and told him which one, naturally he knew the families and the history of the entire area. Sharp as a tack and smarter than smart, he interviewed me for the position I hold here at Food Trade News. At the end of the interview, which was more like a lesson of the history of the Speakman family, he looked at me and said, “Well, you’re coming with us, right?”…and he smiled. How could I say no? Bill was also owner/president of Speakman Management. Bill leaves behind his wife of 50 years, Ann (Johnson), three children and two grandchildren. Rest in peace, Bill.

We also say goodbye to veteran Philadelphia food broker Richard Davidov who passed away on October 4 after a long battle with cancer. He was 71. Rich leaves behind his wife Toby, five children and 1 grandchildren. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Davidov Music Therapy Fund, c/o CHOP, 3400 Civic Center Blvd., P.O. Box 827790, Phila. PA 19104.

Birthday shout-outs for the colorful month of October go to: Mike Keba Jr., Giant/Carlisle; Charles Schuster, recently retired from RMG; Ray Nemeth, Herr Foods; Jeff Ghajar, Goya Foods; Mike Villari, Citterio; Pete Kostick, retired from Utz Snacks; Rick Egick, Strategick Sales; Nina Weiland, retired from Food Trade News; Andy Metzger, son of Best-Met’s Jeff and Audrie Metzger, and very special birthday wishes to Frank Nardi Sr., retired from Wakefern, who celebrates 90 years this month. Frank was my mentor and guardian angel at Wakefern when I was just starting out in the food business. He taught me how to navigate the “Wakefern waters” and I will never forget his patience and guidance. Cent’anni, my friend! Buon compleanno a tutti!

Celebrating marital bliss this month are: Mary and Charles Schuster, retired RMG; Frank and Mary Frazier, retired Cargill; and Tim and Lisa Summy, Bimbo Bakeries. Happy anniversary!

Quote of the month: “If Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be at the dock.” — Arthur Goldberg, American statesman and jurist.