Food Fella: Gary’s Wine and Marketplace expands to Napa Valley

A bold, exciting move west (as in Left Coast west) was recently announced by the popular Gary’s Wine & Marketplace chain. The owner of four gourmet wine and specialty food outlets, proudly based in New Jersey and serving the Garden State for the last three decades, will open its first West Coast store in St. Helena, California, taking over the former Dean & DeLuca space. 

When Gary Fisch began his career in wine over 40 years ago, the very first winery he visited was Louis M. Martini. Gary’s new California location will now open across from the iconic winery this September, according to the company’s website.

In a Q&A with Lisa B. Zimmerman featured in Forbes, Fisch said: “Operating in the heart of Napa Valley will benefit our loyal New Jersey customers by providing them with a home away from home when visiting wine country. In addition, we will offer a signature, concierge service where guests can taste wines and arrange to visit neighboring wineries. We aim to offer something for everyone who visits our store. The new Gary’s location in St. Helena will focus more heavily on Napa Valley wines than my other stores in New Jersey.”

Fisch is frequently one of the top bidders at the Napa Valley Vintners’ annual Premiere Napa Valley, which he’s been attending for more than 20 years.

The new location will feature over 600 wine labels focusing primarily on Napa Valley wines, while also including the largest and most diverse selection of hand-selected imports in the area. Gary’s will also carry over 250 spirits and beer products and well over 200 cheeses and other specialty food items (local and imported), as well as coffee and breakfast items, salads, sandwiches, charcuterie, olive oil and fresh-baked bread. As retail outlets selling wine and liquor have been dwindling and moving solely online, Fisch was quoted in stating, “The beverage alcohol industry is great as a brick-and-mortar space. We want our customers to know that we’re always listening. We are constantly evolving our selection according to their drinking habits. We are excited to let our Napa Valley customers know that they can always rely on us for the best recommendations.”

Congratulations to Gary’s Wine & Marketplace for such great vision, passion and insight by owner Gary Fisch and his family as they prepare to launch this whole new dimension to their already successful New Jersey business!

Conversation Starter

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Grand opening of Filipino grocer at Clifton Plaza 

Filipino grocer FilStop recently opened its doors, celebrating its new 16,000-square-foot flagship location at Clifton Plaza in Clifton. The grand opening event took place last Thursday, where the public had the opportunity to enjoy free samples and learn more about the store’s diverse product offerings. Catering to the Filipino food market and home cooks, FilStop sells hard-to-find food items from the Philippines, along with hot and freshly made ready-to-go meals and snacks. FilStop also has a 4,000-square-foot store in Jersey City, which opened in 1973, and remains open. 

Clifton Plaza is anchored by a Big Lots and Blink Fitness, and features a strong mix of retail, restaurant and service tenants, including Dollar Tree, Dunkin, GameStop, Verizon Wireless and Sally Beauty Supply, among others.

Owner Erwin Santos said the new, larger Clifton store will expand the business significantly. “We are looking forward to serving our loyal client base from this larger location,” he said. Santos said he chose Clifton Plaza due to its visible location on Route 46 at the Van Houten Avenue intersection, and for its ample parking and accessibility to major thoroughfares, making it a convenient stop for patrons.

Levin Management Corp., based in North Plainfield, is the exclusive leasing and managing agent for the 95,000-square-foot Passaic County shopping center.

“There are many Asian big-box stores that have come to market, but what continues to set us apart is that we carry about 10,000 different food items — the largest selection of products available in the U.S.,” Santos said. “Equally important, we run our stores in a very ‘mom-and-pop’ style and pride ourselves on being on the ground with our customer base each day as we cater to their wants and needs. If someone is looking for an item that we don’t have, I will order it and make sure the customer gets the products they want.”

Congratulations to Erwin Santos and all employees on the opening of your newest location in the busy Clifton neighborhood; much success as you bring Filipino culture, tradition and ethnicity right into the community and a ‘hungry for something different’ New Jersey market! 

Conversation Starters

Learn more about FilStop at:

Find Levin Management Corp. at: Levin Management Corp.

Corrado’s ready to make splash at Shore in 2020

Damon Riccio
The Laurel Square shopping center in Brick, where independent grocer Corrado’s Market will take over a shuttered Pathmark.

Word on the street is that Corrado’s Market, a favorite specialty food market based in northern New Jersey, is heading “down the Shore” with a new location scheduled to open in Brick. This will be the first store in Ocean County for the family-owned and -operated specialty food retailer. Corrado’s recently opened a new location in the Morris County town of Denville, which I reported in my April 1 “Food Fella” column; it also has other food market locations in Clifton, Wayne, Fairfield and North Arlington. The company also operates three True Value hardware centers and five pet markets and is headquartered in the Clifton location.

“We have some work to do in the new location, so please be patient with us. In the meantime, subscribe to our weekly circular + specials on and get updates on our progress!” was the message from Paul Corrado, owner and president.

The store is slated to open in Laurel Square shopping center, taking most of the space left from a Pathmark that was shuttered more than four years ago. The shopping center is owned by Brixmor, which had been searching to find a replacement grocer for the vacant space. The other big anchor in the shopping center, Kmart, also closed just last year but since has been replaced by At Home, a home accessories store.

It’s great to see an independent grocer expanding its presence in the Garden State, as its format of good, inexpensive produce, specialty prepared foods, Italian and Mediterranean-style foods, and fresh dairy and bakery has been serving this family food business and its shoppers very well! Much success to the Corrado family as it embarks on the new southern location.

Calling food entrepreneurs: Basics Workshop scheduled

If you’ve dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur and making a splash into the food scene, dream no more! The Rutgers Food Innovation Center will be hosting a Food Business Basics Workshop and Training Session for early-stage entrepreneurs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Rutgers EcoComplex, 1200 Florence-Columbus Road, Bordentown.

The Food Business Basics Workshop is a unique opportunity for food entrepreneurs to learn critical aspects of entering or growing their business in the prepared food and beverage industry. Attendees will be in front of movers and shakers working in the industry, who will give advice on how to create, commercialize, market and sell in this competitive market.

You must act quickly; this is only a one-day interactive workshop and training session, and will include hot panel discussions and roundtable breakout sessions where attendees will be able to learn and get questions answered by business and technical experts. The list includes food scientists, food safety regulators, food buyers and distributors, legal experts, trend and category experts, marketing and packaging gurus, successful entrepreneurs and many more! 

Hot panel discussions and panelists (as of Aug. 13) will include: 

  • Selling your Product — How to sell to the retail buyer and food service operator: John Lawson, regional grocery buyer with Whole Foods Market; Lisa Tenore, senior food buyer with Rutgers University; Diane Holtaway, associate director of marketing & business development with the Rutgers Food Innovation Center (Bridgeton); and Matt Christmas, sales with Driscoll Foods (Distributor).
  • Show Me the Money — How to plan for and access capital: George Cook, co-founder with Honeycomb Credit; Carol Waties, director with New Jersey Small Business Development Centers; Marc Kramer, executive director with Private Investors Forum; and Janis Grover, specialty food consultant with Grover Global Food Marketing LLC.
  • From Concept to Commercialization — Transforming your idea from concept to package: Richard McArdle, executive director with Rutgers Food Innovation Center (Bridgeton); Nolan Lewin, director with Rutgers Food Innovation Center (Piscataway)/director of operations (Bridgeton); Anshu Dua, co-founder and CEO of the Chaat Co.; Joe Sudo, founder of Not Joe Mama’s Sauce; and Julie Elmer, associate director of food technology with Rutgers Food Innovation Center (Bridgeton).
  • Food Safety — What you need to know: Donna Schaffner, associate director of food safety, quality assurance & training with Rutgers Food Innovation Center; Eva Szewczyk, food safety HACCP trainer with the Rutgers Food Innovation Center; Jeanne Garbarino, food safety consultant.
  • Brand Power — Creating and protecting your brand: Danielle DeFilippis, trademark attorney with Norris McLaughlin P.A.; Deborah Smith, president of FoxTrot Media LLC and owner/executive editor of Jersey Bites; Michael Wilson, owner and creative director of Madevisible Studio; Damon Riccio, account executive with ROI-NJ; and Lisa Kent, founder/marketing & innovation consultant, The Luminations Group LLC.

Plan on many more panelists to be there that can and will help get you prepared for developing, managing and growing a specialty food business.

As the day ends, there will be an opportunity to network with fellow attendees and presenters to develop and build business relationships that will be invaluable to you and your business.
Food Fella will also be there, so hope to meet you!


8:15 a.m.: Attendee sign-in;
9-10:30 a.m.: Panel sessions;
10:40-11 a.m: Break;
11 a.m.-12:40 p.m.: Panel sessions;
12:40-1:30 p.m.: Lunch;
1:30-3:30 p.m.: Roundtable sessions;
3:30-5 p.m.: Networking

Registration fee: $249 per person; $29 per person Rutgers student rate (student ID must be presented day of the event).

Register at:

To learn more about the workshop, email: