ROI-NJ Influencers: Food & Beverage 2019 (A-Z)

ROI-NJ reveals its inaugural list of Food & Beverage influencers and sets the table with the state’s top names in the sector:

To read the Top 10 influencers, click here.

For the other top names in the state, from A-Z, read on!

Neil Barnett

President and chief operating officer

Fedway Associates, Basking Ridge

It is one of the biggest liquor distributors in the country. And, while it is based in Basking Ridge, it recently opened a 539,000-square-foot distribution center in Elizabeth, giving the wholesaler direct access to the tri-state area, including more than 8,000 restaurants, clubs, taverns and retail stores in New Jersey. “They are one of the biggest distributors in the country,” one insider said. “Barnett is a key to the operation.”

Adenah Bayoh

Founder and CEO

Adenah Bayoh and Cos., Irvington

Bayoh is the owner of IHOP franchises in Newark, Paterson and Irvington. But that — and the fact she has expanded into real estate — is not what earned her a spot on this list. A native of war-torn Liberia, Bayoh is an example to immigrants everywhere. Like so many in the food and beverage sector, she personifies the American Dream, showing how hard work in the industry can help anyone elevate their financial status.

Jeff Braverman

CEO, Hoboken

Braverman is credited for growing the family-owned business. “He took a small retail shop that was kind of floundering and not doing well, and he built it into this empire that has now become,” one insider said. His vision was key. “He really was a precursor to all the things going on with e-commerce. He has been amazingly successful in that arena, and it’s helped build New Jersey’s e-commerce reputation.”

Peggy Brennan-Tonetta; Lou Cooperhouse


Rutgers Food Innovation Center, Bridgeton

Cooperhouse has moved on to a new gig in San Diego, but on our first-ever ROI Influencers: Food & Beverage list, we felt it was appropriate to recognize the center he and Brennan-Tonetta created. “They were the ones with the vision to set up something in the state that small businesses and large businesses could come to for guidance,” one insider said. “The facility is on the cutting edge of innovation in the food industry as times change. They have helped so many small businesses get to a larger level. It was one of the first of its kind around the country.”

David Burke

Celebrity chef and owner

David Burke Enterprises, Sea Bright

Burke, a celebrity chef who owns restaurants all around the country, operates The Drifthouse, a restaurant in Sea Bright. The restaurant is hugely popular — and Burke has used its popularity and his celebrity status to expand his presence. “He’s using his star power to market products, which is helping people in the food industry, because some are marketing products under his brand name,” one insider said. “He could be the next Emeril Lagasse.”

Anthony Calandra

Owner and president

Calandra Enterprises, Newark

“Enterprises” is a good way to describe the reach of Calandra’s. What started as a family bakery in Newark in 1962 now has three bakeries (the others are in Fairfield and Caldwell) that deliver to more than 500 supermarkets, delis and restaurants in the tri-state area. The family owns and operates several hotels, restaurants and apartment buildings in northern New Jersey and also produces and sells its own line of olive oil, coffee, fresh pasta, homemade sauces and wines from its vineyard in Italy. “They’ve got tentacles everywhere,” one insider said.

Peter Cancro

Founder and CEO

Jersey Mike’s Subs, Wall Township

The sub franchise, which recently surpassed 1,000 locations, is one of the fastest-growing in the country. “It’s a fantastically well-run franchise that started with a vision of just making a better sandwich,” one insider said. “It has turned the sandwich market upside-down.” The company just raised more than $7.3 million during its annual month of giving in March — and you can’t put a value on the positive publicity it gives the state.

Mark Clouse

CEO and president

Campbell Soup Co., Camden

Clouse was instrumental in helping Pinnacle Foods be acquired by Conagra last summer for $8.1 billion. Now, he’s charged with making Campbell’s a giant in the industry again. “It’s a big job,” one insider said. “He is in the process of selling off certain products. He’s charged with making them profitable again and he’s really got the experience to do it in the food industry.”

Joseph Colalillo

Chairman and CEO

Wakefern Food Corp., Keasbey

Colalillo oversees the whole Wakefern operation as the chief executive, but he also owns five ShopRite stores in Hunterdon County and Pennsylvania. “He’s kind of intertwined between both roles,” one insider said. In a collective that is one of the state’s biggest employers, he’s one of the most important people. “Wakefern is fortunate to have so many strong operators,” the insider said. “Joe has good management experience, too.”

Tom Cosentino

Executive director

Garden State Wine Growers Association, Farmingdale

Cosentino comes from a strong marketing and public affairs background, having worked at both MWW and Capital Public Affairs before assuming this role. One insider said it makes him the perfect leader. “He has helped them become a much stronger group,” the insider said. “He understands the marketing side and the legislative side. That has helped them not only get a lot of grants, but have a campaign that has been very successful in getting the word out about New Jersey wineries.”

Jeanne Cretella

Co-founder and president

Landmark Hospitality, Jersey City

She and her husband, Frank Cretella, own and operate some of the top upscale restaurants and event spaces in the area, including Liberty House Restaurant in Jersey City; Stone House at Stirling Ridge, Warren; The Ryland Inn in Whitehouse Station; The Boathouse at Mercer Lake in New Windsor; and the Hotel du Village and the Logan Inn in New Hope, Pennsylvania. “They’ve been at the forefront of a lot of innovative ideas in the restaurant industry, like having a distillery on site,” one insider said. Cretella has served as chairwoman of the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association.

Ariane Daguin

Founder and CEO

D’Artagnan Foods, Union

Daguin set out to become the first purveyor of humanely raised gourmet game and foie gras in the U.S. in 1985. She said she never expected D’Artagnan to be the $130 million company it is today. D’Artagnan has experienced more than 100% growth over the last five years and has quadrupled sales over the last decade. “Everybody in both the restaurant industry and retail industry respects (Daguin) because she has all specialty products,” one insider said. “No one is better in her space.”

John Derderian

President and chief operating officer

Allegiance Retail Services, Iselin

Derderian, a veteran of the industry, heads the retailer-owned cooperative and provides marketing, advertising, technological and operational support for its members. More than anything, he’s a champion for independent stores. “He has been instrumental in keeping them very strong in the competition with bigger retailers,” one insider said. He’s also working to bring back the Pathmark name.

Tim Doherty

President and chief operating officer

Doherty Enterprises, Ramsey

Founded in 1985 with the purchase of 19 Roy Rogers locations, Doherty Enterprises has grown into one of the biggest franchise holders in the country, adding Applebee’s, Chevy’s, Panera Bread, the Shannon Rose, Spuntino and Quaker Steak & Lube. It now has more than 150 restaurants on the East Coast. “They are one of the biggest and the best franchise owners in the country,” one insider said. 

Pete Genovese


NJ Advance Media, Edison

What started as the Munchmobile — a summer food review by The Star-Ledger more than two decades ago — has grown into the most followed and most respected review of the food scene in New Jersey. Genovese, the man in control from the start, seemingly has tasted every food item in every corner of the state. Twice. “A positive review from the Munchmobile is worth its weight in gold,” one insider said. “There’s no better lift for a food business in the state.”

Brad Honigfeld

Founder, chairman, co-CEO

Briad Group, Livingston

Honigfeld is the visionary entrepreneur that has grown the Briad Group from one ice cream restaurant into more than 120 restaurants employing more than 8,000 with gross sales in excess of $350 million. The chain, known for its TGI Friday’s, has spent much of its time lately building its Zinburger brand. “He’s someone you just have to have on the list,” one insider said.

Hank Izzo

General manager, U.S. gum, mints and ice cream

Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Hackettstown

Formerly head of research and development at Mars, Izzo has proven he can handle both roles. “He did so well in the R&D role that they put him in a senior management role for a big chunk of their business here in the Northeast,” one insider said. “He’s that good.” He’s also part of the group that is moving Mars Wrigley Confectionery from Hackettstown to Newark, a move that will have a big impact in both locales.

Kurt Knowles

Co-owner and director of corporate affairs

Knowles Hospitality, West Orange

Knowles oversees four of the best-known restaurants in the state: The Highlawn Pavilion, Pleasantdale Chateau and The Manor, all in West Orange, and the Ram’s Head Inn in Galloway Township. “Their family has stood the test of time,” one insider said. “They obviously get a big chunk of the wedding business in the state, but they also have a huge chunk of the catering business.”

David Maniaci

Chairman and CEO

Allegiance Retail Services/Nicholas Markets, Woodland Park

Maniaci is the CEO of Allegiance, but he’s also an owner, owning four Foodtowns and two Grand Opening liquor franchises. His family has had a long reputation in the business. This history gives him the knowledge and experience needed to handle both roles. “He’s just another one of the longtime top players in the industry,” one insider said.

Tim McLoone

Founder and CEO

McLoone’s Restaurants, Shrewsbury

Since he opened McLoone’s Rum Runner in Sea Bright in 1997, he has successfully combined good food and good music to make hits up and down the state. (Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny, and McLoone’s own band, Tim McLoone and the Shirleys, have all performed.)  “He’s a musician first,” one insider said. “So, he’s been very instrumental (no pun intended) in combining music with his restaurants. It’s always a great time when you’re there.”

Gene Muller

Founder and president

Flying Fish Brewing Co., Somerdale

Fun fact: When Muller founded Flying Fish Brewing Co. in 1995, he did so first on what was then called the World Wide Web — making it the world’s first virtual microbrewery. That early website helped generate positive press coverage and helped attract the investors needed to make the virtual brewery a real one. “He’s the leader,” one insider said. “Flying Fish has the most wholesale sales of any of the craft brews in the state.”

Michael J. O’Donnell


The Belmullet Food and Beverage Group, Dumont

Belmullet possesses vast experience in all aspects of sales and marketing in food and beverage segments. O’Donnell, who previously held senior positions at Anheuser-Busch and Nestle Waters of North America, among others, has been instrumental in improving sales efficiencies and consolidating unprofitable channels. “He’s well-versed in brand development and launching brands to national prominence,” one insider said.

Kris Ohleth

Founder and president

Garden State Kitchens, Orange

She has taken a huge role in helping develop small food businesses with Garden State Kitchens, providing the opportunity for a business to incubate and grow. “This is a huge — and growing — part of the food sector that people sometimes overlook,” one insider said. “They shouldn’t. Many — if not most — of the best new food ideas start with one person in one kitchen.”

Dina Opici


Opici Family Distributing Inc., Glen Rock

The family, which has been in the wine distributing business for more than 80 years, was recently recognized by EY as one of a dozen Entrepreneurs of the Year. Opici, the president, and Don Opici, the managing director, represent the fourth generation of leadership of what is now one of the biggest distributors on the East Coast. “They distribute to all kinds of restaurants in the state,” one insider said. “And not just wine. They also have other high-end liquor products. They are huge. Everyone knows them.”

Jason Pierson


Pierson Commercial, Englishtown

You want influence in the food and beverage industry? How’s this: Pierson is the lead broker for Starbucks in the state. In other words, he helps the company decide where it will put new locations in nine key counties. He’s the guy municipal leaders and developers would love to get to know. “Getting a Starbucks says something about your town,” one insider said. “It says you’re a good place to do business. It’s a huge economic development boost.”

Ray Rastelli


Rastelli Foods Group, Swedesboro

Rastelli has been an industry leader since 1976, with brands that can be found in top hotels, restaurants and retail outlets. His four companies serve direct to consumer (Rastelli Market Fresh), business to business (Rastelli Foods), food service (Rastelli Global) and restaurants and retail (Rastelli Seafood). “Rastelli is a huge food distributor that has been expanding its network over the years,” one insider said. “And it’s not just through his network of stores, they also do a lot of distribution (to) the military.”

Carlos Rodriguez

CEO and president

Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Hillside

The mission is simple: To fight hunger and poverty in New Jersey by assisting those in need while seeking long-term solutions. The group attempts to engage, educate and empower all sectors of society in the battle. Rodriguez is getting accolades for his efforts. “He has taken the community food bank and has really made an association people really want to really work with,” one insider said.

Kenneth Romanzi

CEO and president

B&G Foods, Parsippany

Romanzi just took over for the now-retired Robert Cantwell — and he looks like a smart choice to do so, according to one insider. “He has a good (consumer packaged goods) background in the food industry,” one insider said. “He is going to be very instrumental in B&G continuing to grow through merger and acquisition. They are pinning their hopes on him.”

David Rosenberg; Marc Oshima

CEO; Chief marketing officer

AeroFarms, Newark

What started as a cool idea — an indoor farm, one that could be anywhere — has become a growing part of the food landscape. AeroFarms is now making healthy food more available in urban food deserts and it is challenging healthy foods produced anywhere. “They’re naturally organic because there’s no pesticides used,” one insider said. “That is helping them slowly develop a niche of selling to retailer.” The company said it is planning to expand.

Marcus Samuelsson

Owner; President

Marcus B&P; Marcus Samuelsson Group, Newark

His restaurant has taken off in Newark, and that cannot be overstated, one insider said. “He has helped so many ways in Newark. Because he’s a celebrity chef, because he’s well-known, because he has other establishments in other parts of the country, especially in New York, it said something that he came to New Jersey,” they said. “And he wants to invest more. He’s looking to expand in the state.”

Lou Scaduto Jr.


Food Circus Supermarkets, Middletown

Food Circus is a locally-owned and family-operated supermarket chain of five Super Foodtown stores serving the Monmouth County area since 1956. Scaduto is a third-generation owner who makes giving back to the community a central theme of his stores — stores you probably have visited during summer vacations down at the Shore. “For one week of the year, they are everyone’s most important grocer,” one insider said.

Karen Schloss Diaz


Diaz Schloss Communications


A public relations person on a food list? You better believe it. Schloss Diaz is a key figure in the industry. Her efforts have helped Montclair build its reputation with foodies. “I think what she’s done on the PR side is incredible,” one insider said. “She’s helped a lot of restaurants get on the map. She’s helping to promote Montclair as a place to go. She has helped make Montclair a foodie place.”

Joe Sofia

Senior vice president/N.J. division manager

Wegmans Food Markets, West Windsor

Sofia, in charge of all Wegmans in New Jersey, has helped the famed upscale grocery chain assimilate to the New Jersey market. “They continue to open stores throughout the state, and he’s the driving force behind that,” one insider said. “They are quickly approaching a dozen — which means they are becoming a huge employer, too. They already have more than 5,000 employees — and that number is growing.”

Amanda Sourry


Unilever North America, Englewood Cliffs

Sourry makes the list for efforts in sustainability at Unilever. “She’s very concerned and active about Unilever’s sustainability efforts,” one insider said. “It is of great importance to the company, which reproduces a lot of food products.” Earlier this year, the company introduced nine reusable packaging innovations, including new product formats. Look for more of those moving forward.

William Sumas


Village Supermarkets, Springfield

The family-owned company opened its first Village Market in 1937. Just under 10 years later, it joined Wakefern, becoming one of the cooperative’s earliest members. As the Sumas family grew, so, too, did the business. Today, the family owns and operates 30 ShopRite supermarkets, most of which are in New Jersey. Always community driven, Village has made giving back a priority through its “Village in our Communities” program.

Ryck Suydam


New Jersey Farm Bureau, Trenton

As president of the New Jersey Farm Bureau, he works closely with other associations to make sure the farm growers here in the state are able to get fair legislation to help them maintain their businesses, and he is busy making connections with some key manufacturing and distribution companies to make sure they’ll buy products directly from New Jersey farms. “He’s been focused on making sure that their members can grow by making synergies with others.”