Tag: farm to shelf

MAKING AN AWARD WINNER: Kefir, Yogurt & Buttermilk with SUNRISE FAMILY FARMS NORWICH, NEW YORK

Charlie Reinshagen at Sunrise Family Farms

SUNRISE FAMILY FARMS makes FIVE ACRE FARMS Local Yogurt, Kefir and Buttermilk starting with the best local whole milk.

Dave Evans and his partners Charlie Reinshagen and Sandy Grant each represent a different generation of a farming family. Dave (3rd), Charlie (2nd) and Sandy (5th) bring a farmer’s viewpoint and values to the creamery.

They have built a successful partnership on what the three of them have in common—family farming traditions and their love of change and new challenges as their company grows.

GOING LOCAL IN WESTCHESTER AND PUTNAM COUNTIES: A CONVERSATION WITH JOE DECICCO, JR., DECICCO & SONS

left to right: Chris DeCicco, Joseph DeCicco Jr., and John DeCicco Jr. in front of their Craft Beer Bar in Millwood

Left to right: Chris DeCicco, Joseph DeCicco Jr., and John DeCicco Jr. in front of their Craft Beer Bar in Millwood

DECICCO & SONS regional grocery chain got its start in 1973, when the DeCicco brothers—Frank Sr., John Sr., and Joe Sr.—began selling groceries out of a small storefront in the Bronx. Today DeCicco & Sons has stores in Armonk, Ardsley, Brewster, Harrison, Larchmont, Millwood and Pelham in New York’s Westchester and Putnam counties.

How did your family get into the grocery business?

My father and his two brothers came to America from Italy in 1958. Being from Italy, they had a deep knowledge and love of food and immediately found work at New York City produce stands and butcher shops. In 1973, they opened the first DeCicco’s store in the Bronx.

How did you expand the chain over the years?

The brothers opened their first Westchester location in Pelham in 1985, and a decade later, were operating three more stores. My cousins John Jr. and Chris and I grew up together. In 2006, the three of us joined forces and opened the store in Ardsley. In addition to Ardsley, we now manage the original Pelham store and six additional stores we have opened over the past 10 years. We all share leadership of and responsibility for the business. My dad and Uncle John still walk the aisles all the time, giving us advice and inspiration and visiting with customers.

What’s new in the stores?

We recently introduced a beer and wine bar in Millwood, our newest store, where we host special events and new releases with brewers. All of our stores now have coffee bars, and we roast our own coffee beans in house at the Brewster location. Next up we’ll start serving FIVE ACRE FARMS milk at all of our coffee bars!

How has the local food movement changed your business?

The strong interest in local food among our customers has been a major development for us over the last few years. I know from talking with our customers that their eyes are open about the issues surrounding local food, and they are knowledgeable about seasonality. They understand that there is a time and place for local fruits and vegetables. They know that they can buy apples grown in the Hudson Valley only when they are in season and don’t take that for granted. When you buy dairy and eggs from a local source, and especially with FIVE ACRE FARMS, you know where the food was produced, who the farmers are and how they care for their animals. You know they are giving you a quality product.

How do you maintain your high level of customer service?

Our approach to customer service is very simple: everyone in the family leads by example. No job is too small. We walk around the stores, answering customers’ questions, bagging groceries, rounding up shopping carts, making sure the stores are always tidy. Our employees see us working side by side with them and interacting with customers, which promotes teamwork and collaboration. We also have a well-developed training program for all of our employees.

How do you stay current with the needs and preferences of your customers?

We stay close to our customers to ensure that we can respond to their requests and even anticipate what they want. At the checkout, we always ask, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” Members of our team talk with customers in the stores, our customers email us and they even highlight certain products for us on social media.

What’s your favorite thing about your work?

I love that the food business is so dynamic.There is always something new to learn, and I enjoy the challenge of keeping up with trends and new developments that are relevant to providing the best possible products and experience for our customers. Since I’m a foodie myself, it’s a fun time to be a buyer. I also love merchandising the store and seeing our customers really appreciate quality food.

What’s the most challenging thing about your business?

We operate in a very competitive business environment. Today, with online shopping, convenience stores, and big box retailers, we are faced with more competition than ever. But we also relish the challenge.

What makes the DeCicco’s partnership with FIVE ACRE FARMS work for you??

FIVE ACRE FARMS makes it easy for us to offer local food in our stores and gives us an important stamp of approval in the eyes of our customers. You provide great-tasting, quality products from farms you have hand selected. You tell our customers where their food comes from and connect them with their farmers. It’s obvious that you care about what you are doing. We like how you do business and depend on your expertise. It means one less thing we need to worry about.

A CONVERSATION WITH IVAN ARGUELLO

Left to right: Ivan Arguello, Jr., Ivan Arguello, Sr., and Enrico Palazio, Jr.

IVAN ARGUELLO, a 30-year veteran of the grocery business, owns KEY FOOD MONTAGUE in Brooklyn Heights. Ivan’s family has operated the store, part of the cooperatively owned Key Food chain, since 1982. Today Ivan runs the store alongside his nephew Enrico Palazio, Jr. and his son Ivan Jr. Over breakfast recently, we talked about the longevity of their family business, our shared commitment to taking local food mainstream and where the super-market business is headed.

Tell us about your family’s history in the grocery business.

My father came to New York from Nicaragua in 1979, in the midst of the revolution there. He started working in construction out on Long Island, and then purchased the store in Brooklyn Heights in 1982. He found the right people to run it, and learned everything he needed to know about the supermarket world from them. My brother-in-law Enrico Palazio, Sr. and I took over the business when my father passed away in 1994.

Why Brooklyn Heights?

I’ve always felt at home here. It’s a great community that appreciates the value of having a quality supermarket in the neighborhood, and we have many loyal employees, some who have been with us for 30 years. We owned a second store, in the Bronx, for a while, but ultimately decided to focus all of our time and attention on making the Brooklyn Heights store the best it can be. My wife Mary Elizabeth and I live in New Jersey now, but I love Brooklyn Heights. The store is my second home.

How has your business changed over the years?

Consumers today are much more informed about food and demand higher levels of service, convenience and transparency from their sources and grocery stores than ever before. Their interest in local food continues to grow, and we dedicate ourselves to finding the best sources from around the region. That inspires our focus on quality, the products we offer in the store and how we present them. We work hard at getting that right. It means a lot to us that customers continue to support their local family-run supermarket.

How have you responded to these developments?

We talk with our customers all the time, ask for their input and anticipate broader consumer trends. It’s important to listen to the younger generations. I see that they’re eager to try new foods. Knowing how they shop has changed how we think about selling food. Enrico and Ivan Jr., our store’s third generation and younger consumers themselves, have helped with this. In 2015, we collaborated with a group of Fordham business school students to analyze consumer and market data and identify changes we needed to make to better serve our customers. Those adjustments, which we’ve implemented over the past couple of years, have been very successful.

What are some of those modifications?

We focused on product sourcing, store remodeling, and product presentation to ensure the best food and fit with our customer. We opened a new kitchen and hired a professional chef to develop recipes so we could offer a broader array of prepared foods. We now have a farm stand look that sets our produce department apart. Ivan Jr. has a knack for spotting trends, and he’s always out foraging for the tastiest, highest-quality local products. Enrico is involved in the deli and cheese departments and keeps the operations and finance side of things running smoothly.

How did you find FIVE ACRE FARMS?

I’m proud to have been among the first to discover and carry FIVE ACRE FARMS. Dan (Dan Horan, Five Acre Farms Founder & CEO) lives in the neighborhood and has long been part of the community. Like KEY FOOD MONTAGUE customers, I believe in your company’s mission and want to support the region’s outstanding farmers. I know from talking with our customers that they recognize that local farmers and businesses need our support to thrive and grow and want to do their part to make that happen.

What makes your partnership with FIVE ACRE FARMS work so well?

To me, the foundation of our productive working relationship is our shared belief in the vital role local food plays in building community and the local economy. FIVE ACRE FARMS really knows local food. You provide great-tasting, high-quality local products. You connect us to our farmers by telling us about them and where our food comes from. You show that you really care about our store. There aren’t many companies out there that offer your level of service, that send ambassadors into the store, like you do, to visit, talk with dairy managers and introduce your products to customers.

What do you like to eat at home?

I eat very well at home… steaks are definitely a favorite. We enjoy many cuisines from around the world. And my wife always asks me to bring home FIVE ACRE FARMS Maple Greek Yogurt. That’s what she serves when her friends come over for breakfast. They just love it!

Graze on Local Farm Fare with Delta, Union Square Events Partnership
×