Food Fella: Cheers! ACG NJ hosts wine tasting at Opici

(Editor’s Note: This story was published prior to the coronavirus outbreak and social distancing measures.)

All who attended the Association of Corporate Growth-New Jersey “field trip” at the Opici Family Wine Distribution Center in Glen Rock, including the “Food Fella,” had nothing but raves for this exceptional evening. 

The association helps to drive key business connections and opportunities for middle management to C-suite-level executives through its membership program, and it strives to provide members unique educational and networking opportunities. This was very evident at the Opici headquarters and main distribution facility in Bergen County, as more than 75 members enjoyed wine tastings, compliments of the Opici family, and learned a bit more about the wine distribution industry and the various businesses connected to it. We all now have a favorite Opici wine to look forward to, although all three flights we tasted were spectacular!

The Opici family has a long, rich history in the wine business, and for nearly a century, the company has remained family-owned and -operated, now under the fourth-generation leadership of Dina Opici. She and George Palmeri gave the attendees an education both in head knowledge and firsthand tasting experience of some of their most popular wines from Italy, France, California and Argentina.

The facility in Glen Rock is a 200,000-square-foot, temperature-controlled warehouse with offices just off Route 208.

Over the years, Opici has grown beyond New Jersey to a total of seven locations, including New York, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware and Florida. It distributes over 1,400 spirits, wine, sparkling and RTD brands, representing 47 countries around the world and a portfolio represented in 50 states through a national distributor network.

I asked Dina Opici a few questions to get more insight into the business: 

ROI-NJ: What are some of the trends you see in wine and liquor for retailers?

Dina Opici: Over the past two years, we’ve seen a resurgence of rosé wines, and no longer are they just enjoyed as a summer wine. … We are also seeing a focus on healthier choices, with more requests for beverages with lower alcohol content and more options like organic and natural beverages, all items we’ve been carrying and adding to our portfolio that make sense.

ROI: What makes New Jersey an attractive location to stay in?

DO: Well, after 85 years in the business with our roots here in New Jersey, we still believe that so much opportunity to grow our business is centered here, and we want to continue to operate and grow as a New Jersey-based company, much like my grandfather, Hubert Opici, envisioned many years ago when he was in charge.

ROI: How was business for Opici this past 2019, and how do you deal with some of the discounters like a Trader Joe’s who famously sell the ‘two-buck Chuck’ wines?

DO: Well, last year was a good year for Opici, probably one of our better years within the past decade, which we are very thankful for, and, despite some of the challenges from either our industry or ourselves, our team here worked so hard to help get us there. … As far as the lower-price wine options at discounters like Trader Joe’s and others, we look at them as opportunities, first, because we do some bottling and private label wines for these retailers, and, secondly, we feel that, as the younger generations graduate from less-expensive options to a better quality wine, we’ll have the chance to sell them our higher-quality, higher-price wine selections to enjoy.

Great event and evening by both ACG NJ and the Opici Family Wine Distribution Co., and thank you, Dina Opici, for hosting the ACG and sharing what has made your company a success all these years!

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Fresh Grocer banner replaces 4 Foodtowns

February marked a new beginning for the Maniaci family and its Nicholas Markets company, which operated four Foodtown stores here in New Jersey, a banner under the Allegiance Retail Services group. The stores have transitioned to the Fresh Grocer brand, which is a registered trademark of the retailer-owned cooperative Wakefern Food Corp. That banner represents supermarket chain operators specializing in high-quality, fresh prepared foods and meeting the needs, tastes and traditions of the communities in which the stores are located. 

The stores are being rebranded to the Fresh Grocer on the following dates: Colonia, 510 Inman Ave., Feb. 14; Washington Township, 315 Pascack Road, Feb. 21; North Haledon, 1068 High Mountain Road, Feb. 28; and Cedar Grove, 597 Pompton Ave., March 6.

Shoppers can expect to see all their favorite sections of their store they’ve been familiar with, while new products and features are added with the new name. There will be a Fresh Grocer Price Plus Club card at the four Nicholas Markets locations and they’ll also feature new advertising circulars starting this month with special deals for the new Fresh Grocer stores. 

“My customers know they get a top-notch, specialty grocery shopping experience at our stores, and we will continue to provide all the things our customers know and love while adding new and exciting features as we rebrand to the Fresh Grocer,” said David Maniaci, current CEO and president of Nicholas Markets. “This is the exciting next chapter in my family’s 77-year history in the grocery business. I want to thank shoppers for their ongoing support as we complete our rebranding efforts and make the change to the Fresh Grocer.” 

The Maniaci Family announced last October that it had joined retailer-owned cooperative Wakefern. The move made the Maniaci family and its company, Nicholas Markets, the 51st member of the supermarket cooperative based in Keasbey.

The rebranded stores will continue to offer restaurant-quality take-home meals with best in market pricing, and a wide variety of high-quality fresh foods at low prices. Customers also will notice services such as Instacart, the on-demand and online grocery delivery service.

Nicholas Markets was founded in 1943, when Rocco Maniaci and his son, Nicholas Maniaci, opened a small grocery store in North Haledon, and remains a family-owned specialty supermarket. The family’s addition to Wakefern Food Corp. was a natural fit, given Wakefern’s history as a cooperative made up of many family-owned independent grocers.

Wishing David Maniaci and family and the team at Wakefern/the Fresh Grocer much success!

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