Food Fella: Middlesex now home to new indie grocery banner

An ongoing economic revival effort that’s happening in the town of Middlesex now has the good fortune of welcoming a new supermarket banner and shopping experience for the area, called Price Saver Fresh Marketplace. The store just opened in late February and held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and official grand opening April 5 at the 242 Lincoln Blvd. location. The new store occupies about 54,000 square feet of space at a shuttered Pathmark location.

Frank Manzo, CEO of the new store, is a veteran of the food industry, with close to 50 years in the business both developing retail stores and manufacturing food products, such as Manor House Coffee, mostly in the Chicago area and Midwest. Manzo has tapped another grocery veteran, Nasser “Nick” Nasser as the chief operations officer of the store and overall food operation.

The corporation is Supermarkets Plus LLC, and it leases the Middlesex store. Manzo also said that, as it gets things settled at the new location, the company is looking to lease and open two more locations in New Jersey. 

According to Manzo, “We’re excited to open the Middlesex store that incorporates quality food franchises as a part of the mix for shoppers, and we are looking at two more leases of vacant retail stores here.”

One of the concepts that Manzo alluded to in this new store format is to feature franchises with both local and national brand-name recognition. One such franchise in the store is Brown’s Fried Chicken, which is based in Chicago and has locations all throughout the U.S. Brown’s is featured as part of the store’s prepared foods offerings as well as another, which started here in New Jersey, called EZ Pizza, where the customer can choose from three types of crust and four types of cheese as well as 50-plus toppings, all baked in 3 minutes right in front of customers. Along with traditional grocery, fresh produce, meats and dairy, the store also features a section for a True Value Home & Garden center.

The Price Saver Fresh Marketplace banner and logo are independent and not sponsored by any wholesaler, though the store uses the wholesaler UNFI (formerly SuperValu) to supply its groceries. There is also a pharmacy on premises, Price Saver Fresh Marketplace, and the store does carry a line of new CBD products under the Earth-E CBD brand. The operation currently employs about 70 people from the area.

Wishing Frank Manzo, “Nick” Nasser and the whole team at the new store much success, and we’ll look to see where the additional Price Saver Fresh Marketplaces may soon be opening!

Hot New Jersey neighborhood adds giant food hall

The new 30,000-square-foot main atrium at Harborside.

A new 30,000-square-foot main atrium at Harborside, the 4.3 million square-foot-office complex set along the Hudson River with views of Manhattan, has now opened as District Kitchen. This is a unique dining concept offering a wide variety of vendors throughout the atrium, but the new food hall will also feature other popular Jersey City food spots, like Ani Ramen and Left Bank Burger Bar. There are fast-casual dining options ranging from lobster rolls to Neapolitan pizza to Korean barbecue.

District Kitchen food hall is constructed with design features that celebrate the Harborside’s rich industrial history.

Though the selection of local restaurateurs have various backgrounds, all are focused on the same goal: providing “JCers” with a fun and spirited place to gather over delicious food and drinks (it also has a bar, serving beer, wine, and cocktails).

The 13 vendors currently showcased in the space are:

  • Salt + Seed;
  • Angry Lobster Roll;
  • Canteen to Go;
  • The Belgian Plate by Waffle It & Co.;
  • Pizza Vita;
  • Kimchi Grill;
  • Enfes;
  • Tidal Poke;
  • Modcup;
  • Little Sushi Shop;
  • #Baonanas;
  • Left Bank Burger Bar;
  • Ani Ramen.

Mack-Cali, the real estate investment firm that runs Harborside, invested $90 million into it. CEO Michael DeMarco’s stated mission was to make the office complex a desirable place for people to spend time before, during and after work. For years, the vast office complex offered little for commuters and workers in the area.

Sounds like Mack-Cali has done a nice job of bringing a diverse ethnic variety of tastes to the area!

You can visit the eateries Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

7th annual fundraiser for Friends of the Food Industry in May

Save the date and mark your calendars for May 20 for a good cause. Friends of the Food Industry will have its 7th annual Cocktail Party from 6-9 p.m. that day at Hackensack Country Club in Oradell. This year, the organization will be honoring four individuals well-known to the local food industry with Lifetime Achievement Awards: 

  • Larry Inserra Jr.;
  • Tony Gasparro;
  • Rich Desimone; and 
  • Jen Kemp. 

Each of this year’s honorees has made major impacts within the food industry.

Friends of the Food Industry was born back in 2013, when a group of food industry friends and business associates got together and decided to create an organization with the sole mission of coming to the aid of individuals and families within the food industry that have fallen on hard times or have dire financial needs. 

They accomplish this mission through the funds raised by the annual cocktail party, which honors key leaders in the local food industry. Over the past six years, by hosting the cocktail party in May and inviting people throughout the industry — from customers to vendors and brokers — they’re able to take and distribute funds raised from the event. 

Friends of the Food Industry has been fortunate enough to raise over $750,000 in its six years of existence and has helped numerous families and individuals.

One of the things I like the most about the local food industry is the camaraderie, commitment and deep friendships that are found right among our peers and colleagues and can be hard to find in other businesses and industries. Whether you’re at the lower level or right at the top, I commend all of you! 

We wish everyone associated with this mission the very best as you generously give of your time and resources to those colleagues and friends who need our help.

Come on out and support this worthy evening and mingle with some of the key people who make up the food industry here in New Jersey.