Food Fella: N.J.-based convenience chain QuickChek has new culinary leaders

By Damon Riccio
New Jersey | Jul 11, 2019 at 1:00 am
Food Fella

Happy to report that the cuisine of “on-the-go” or, as some call it, “grab-n-go” is really getting kicked up a notch by our friends at QuickChek. The convenience store chain recently announced the appointment of Chris Smyly as director of food service and the hiring of Chef Ted Kwiecien as culinary specialist. 

These new staffing announcements go hand in hand with the company’s ongoing commitment to meeting customers’ growing food-service needs. QuickChek, based in Whitehouse Station, has been opening newly designed stores, with more than half of each new store’s space dedicated to fresh food service.

Smyly has been a senior category manager with the fresh convenience market chain, where he has managed four product and service categories the past three years, including QuickChek’s rollout of the innovative new store design. He possesses more than 25 years of extensive experience in marketing, category management and merchandising within the convenience industry. He has held key positions with increased responsibility for 1,000 stores with ExxonMobil, the largest oil company in the United States; as director of marketing for 57 locations with Pester Marketing/Alta Convenience; and with Circle K.

Kwiecien also has more than 25 years of experience in restaurant management, including two retail brands known for their customer focus: Nordstrom, where he held management positions at the Mall at Short Hills and the Westfield Garden State Plaza; and Nieman Marcus, where he was a manager and chef in Short Hills. He holds degrees in culinary arts and food service management from Johnson & Wales University, one of the premier culinary schools in the world. 

“Today’s consumer and tomorrow’s food trends continue to tell us our customers want fresh food to go,” said QuickChek CEO Dean Durling, who was recently ranked in the Top 10 of ROI-NJ’s inaugural Food & Beverage influencers list for 2019. “In meeting their needs, we have become a food-service destination. Chris has done a great job managing several of our key categories, and we’re pleased to have him lead our food-service team. Ted possesses a proven background as a chef and as a restaurateur with consumer-focused brands that fit our mission of providing restaurant-quality food and beverages for busy people on-the-go.” 

Smyly’s team will continue to redefine “fresh convenience” with the introduction of some exciting new products and services designed for immediate consumption, starting with a hot trend in beverages: QuickChek’s new fresh-brewed iced coffee. The team also will be charged with bringing more seasonality and more trendy, healthier options for consumers. QuickChek is already home to many quality food choices using fresh ingredients for its breakfast, lunch, dinner, fresh snacks and coffee offerings. Other menu offerings include all-natural grilled chicken and no-antibiotics turkey subs, sandwiches, wraps and salads. 

Privately held QuickChek currently operates 158 fresh convenience market locations, including 78 stores with fuel throughout New Jersey, New York’s Hudson Valley and Long Island. The family-owned company has won multiple industry awards for food-service innovation, and we would like to wish the whole team at QuickChek much success as it gains momentum in bringing fresh healthy options to the “grab-n-go” category for our state and beyond.

Conversation Starter

To learn more visit quickchek.com.

Wakefern honored at Community FoodBank’s Blue Jean Ball

Community FoodBank of New Jersey
Wakefern Food Corp. was honored at Community FoodBank of New Jersey’s Blue Jean Ball.

I’d like to applaud our friends at Wakefern Food Corp. for receiving the FOOD award at Community FoodBank of New Jersey’s annual Blue Jean Ball, held May 18 at Central Railroad Terminal in Liberty State Park. Wakefern is one of the FoodBank’s founding partners and the organization’s largest food donor. Last year, it donated more than 6 million pounds of food to provide for neighbors in need throughout New Jersey.  Joe Sheridan, president and chief operating officer of Wakefern Food Corp., accepted the award on behalf of the company.

“Giving back is a defining aspect of our unique culture at Wakefern,” Sheridan said. “It’s our shared commitment to eliminating hunger that makes us great partners with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. We’re proud to accept this year’s FOOD Award and will continue to fight hunger and help struggling families in the communities we serve.”

It’s great to see a leader like Wakefern here in the New Jersey retail food industry making an impact to help our neighbors in need; congratulations to Sheridan, who was also in the Top 10 of ROI-NJ’s inaugural Food & Beverage influencers list for 2019, and the members and employees at Wakefern Food Corp.

Conversation Starter

To get involved with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, please visit: cfbnj.org/.

Digital experts talk food industry disruption

The New Jersey Food Council’s annual Trade Relations Conference & Golf Outing for 2019 was, once again, a well-attended event by many prominent figures within the New Jersey retail food and beverage industry.

The all-star panel grappled with the topic of “Disruption in the State of the Food Industry” and concerns that many food retailers are facing today.

Panelists were James Haslett, manager of e-commerce at Acelerada/Bimbo Bakeries; Steve Henig, vice president of digital commerce and analytics at Wakefern Food Corp.; Andrew Nodes, VP of retail accounts at Instacart; and Anshuman Taneja, VP and head of product management at Peapod Digital Labs. Each shared his expertise with the NJFC membership in attendance about adapting to the ongoing state of disruption from distribution and beyond in his industry.

Also, congratulations to Eva Kohn of CBA Industries on receiving the 2019 Max Stone Trade Relations Award!

Photos by Damon Riccio
Richard Rosete, left, Rick Dolan and Fran Dolan, all of Herr Foods.

Joe Pagano, left, Ron Oronato, Larry Inserra Jr. of Inserra Supermarkets, Herman Dodson, of Chase Bank, Carl Inserra Jr. of Inserra Supermarkets and Taylor Smith of Chase Bank.

Lou Scaduto, left, of Food Circus Foodtown and Travis Epp of EisnerAmper.

Linda Doherty, left, New Jersey Food Council President; John Polizano, retired Daily News executive; Barry Schiro, CBA Industries; Eva Kohn, CBA Industries and the 2019 Max Stone award recipient; and Tim Brahney, Nick Passariello and Mike Colella, all from CBA Industries.

Kevin Gallagher, left, of Food Trade News and Jim Haslett of Perlmart ShopRites.

Rick Dolan, left, of Herr Foods, and Ann Murphy, Steve Henig and Lisa Haley, all with Wakefern Food Corp.

Richard Saker, left, of Saker ShopRites and current chairman of the NJFC; and Karen Gozzi of Wakefern Food Corp. Saker was No. 1 in ROI-NJ’s first Food & Beverage influencers list in 2019.

Conversation Starter

Find out more about upcoming events, or join the NJFC at njfoodcouncil.com.

Damon Riccio | driccio@roi-nj.com | @ROINJNews