Food Fella: Quick change — Convenience chain promotes two, opens new store

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

The Whitehouse Station-based fresh convenience market chain QuickChek celebrated 50 years of serving Monmouth County when it opened a new 5,496-square-foot store near the intersection of routes 35 and 36 across from the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown on Jan. 21. 

The new store offers an innovative “Fresh to Go” design that has been meeting the needs of today’s fast-casual shopper, with more than 50% of the store dedicated to providing freshly prepared food and market items for busy people on the go. 

“We continue to identify opportunities where we can make a difference in people’s everyday lives and make your life easier with the fresh products and services you want, whether it’s a freshly-prepared sub, our guaranteed fresh-brewed coffee, or fuel, and get you on your way fast,” said QuickChek CEO Dean Durling. You may recall Durling was in the Top 10 of ROI-NJ’s inaugural ROI Influencers: Food & Beverage list in April 2019.

This location is the first of several new QuickChek stores scheduled to open across New Jersey and Long Island this year, continuing the family-owned company’s steady growth. Another positive is that each new store creates 40-45 local jobs, including eight management positions. 

QuickChek also announced that Don Leech, who has been with the company for 35 years, has been promoted to vice president of marketing & development. He was most recently vice president of real estate & development for three years and director of operations for 14 years, leading multiple store districts. Leech began his career at the company’s Middletown store in 1985 and has also held positions of assistant store leader and district leader. He holds a bachelor’s degree in management from East Stroudsburg University.

Rich Lamont has been promoted to director of real estate, where he will lead QuickChek’s real estate team. He joined QuickChek in 2006 as a real estate development manager and was promoted to senior real estate development manager in 2016. He has a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture and a master’s degree in urban planning, both from Rutgers University, and holds a landscape architect’s license and a professional planner’s license from the state of New Jersey.

The family-owned chain has opened 34 new store locations since 2015, with more on the way, bringing QuickChek’s store count to 160 locations throughout New Jersey, New York’s Hudson Valley and Long Island.

With this kind of growth, it certainly has enabled the chain to attract and maintain top talent in the industry.

The new higher-quality menu has been helping to make QuickChek’s position as the food service destination in the New York metropolitan area and complements its award-winning fresh-brewed hot and iced coffee program.

Wishing Dean Durling, the newly promoted execs and all the folks at QuickChek much success with the new store openings in 2020!

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Another successful food workshop for Rutgers

Damon Riccio
From left are Carey Hamilton of Carey’s Gourmet Foods, Audrey Wiggins and Nolan Lewin, both of Rutgers FIC.

Congratulations to the staff of the Rutgers Food Innovation Center for another successful Food Business Basics Workshop at the Bridgeton Food innovation Center last month.

The all-day event Jan. 27 featured seven classroom sessions, including Entrepreneurship and Marketing, Business Planning, Tax Benefits, Food Business Law, Food Packaging and Design, Research and Development, and Food Safety and Regulatory.

The well-attended event featured a variety of businesses from all around the Northeast down through Maryland to Atlanta, including startup businesses such as one that uses wine in baked goods, a nutritional supplement company, a food logistics and manufacturing company, a crepe manufacturing company and retail store, and many, many more!

Rutgers FIC is a well-known resource here in the Garden State that supports the food industry with customized assistance from concept to commercialization.

New chairman, officers at NJFC

The annual membership meeting for the New Jersey Food Council took place on Jan. 30, as Richard Saker handed the gavel to Joseph Sofia of Wegmans Food Markets, who is now the 20th chairman of the organization. Along with the business of installing the new chairman, officers and members, a special gift was revealed and given to Saker, who completed the third and final year of his term. As shown here, the New Jersey Food Council commissioned an artist to paint a beautiful portrait of Saker and his father, the late Joseph Saker, who had helped found the NJFC with a few other independent grocers more than 50 years ago in the living room of Saker’s home.

The Food Council has grown significantly in the last several years, as the issues and legislation surrounding the retail food industry have become more critical to traditional retailers, their supplier partners and allied service partners. Good luck to the NJFC and all their members as you champion these causes and work to enhance the image of New Jersey’s food industry! 

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