Big news for fans of Rochester's Zzest:
Six Specialty Retailers Selected for Top Industry Award
Awards to be presented at Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C.
New York, N.Y. (May 25, 2011) The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc. (NASFT), is pleased to announce the Outstanding Specialty Food Retailers of 2011. They are: Central Market, Austin, Texas; Fromagination, Madison, Wisc.; Olives Gourmet Grocer, Long Beach, Calif.; The Cheese Iron, Portland, Maine; The Fresh Market, Greensboro, N.C.; and ZZest Market & Café, Rochester, Minn.
These outstanding retailers range from a local cheese shop founded by a career changer, to a specialty supermarket that has expanded to more than 100 locations without sacrificing its commitment to quality and customer service. The winners were selected by a panel of specialty food experts convened by the NASFT who evaluated nominees from across the U.S.
“Each honoree exemplifies the hallmarks of specialty food retailing in a unique way,” says Ann Daw, president of the NASFT. “They all bring a passion for food, the customer, and the community to their work every day.”
The awards will be presented July 11, 2011, at the Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C., in a red-carpet ceremony hosted by Celebrity Chef Cat Cora. Winners are featured in the June issue of the NASFT’s Specialty Food Magazine and at specialtyfood.com/retailerawards.
Nominations for Outstanding Specialty Food Retailers were made by members of the NASFT. The NASFT is a not-for-profit trade association for food artisans and entrepreneurs. Retailers with the most nominations were asked to submit information including menus, newsletters, training manuals, promotional materials and customer comments, to support their nominations. The judges included previous honorees, manufacturers, distributors and journalists.
Honorable mentions went to: Carlino’s Market, West Chester, Pa.; City Olive, Chicago; Farm Fresh to You, San Francisco; Gerrards Market, Redlands, Calif.; Mollie Stone’s Markets, San Rafael, Calif.; Papa Joe’s Gourmet Market & Catering, Rochester, Minn.; Parkview Gourmet, Libertyville, Ill.; Peppers of Key West, Key West, Fla.; Savor the Flavor, Sierra Madre, Calif.; Southport Grocery & Café, Chicago; Star Provisions, Atlanta; The Andersons, Maumee, Ohio; The Cheese Shop of Virginia, Williamsburg, Va.; Urban Harvest, Arlington Heights, Ill.; Vicente Foods, Los Angeles; and Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Ann Arbor, Mich.
About the winners:
Since opening in 1994, this Texas merchant has expanded to eight stores offering more than 50,000 items, including produce, specialty foods, bakery and deli. The company prides itself on providing customers with unique items in unexpected ways, such as allowing samples of anything in the store and offering year-round cooking classes. centralmarket.com
Founded by a former footwear buyer whose international travels exposed him to the great food markets of Europe, Fromagination presents a carefully-edited selection of 400 items. The cheeses include dozens from local food artisans. The store, on Capitol Square in Madison, Wisc., is across for one of the nation’s largest farmers markets. fromagination.com
Olives Gourmet Grocer
Two veterans of Whole Foods Markets started their own specialty store in 2004 to fill a niche in Long Beach, Calif, with high-quality foods from lesser-known producers. Their specialty food savvy has helped them expand to a second, larger, location, and soon a third. Customer loyalty is a key to success, but Olives also is a popular tourist draw. olivesgourmetgrocer.com
The Cheese Iron
This European-style specialty shop, housed in an antique farmhouse in Portland, Maine, offers more than 200 domestic and international cheeses. Opened in 2006, the store sells cheese making supplies and classes, an olive bar, wine, pâté and freshly baked bread. There’s also an on-site cheese cave. thecheeseiron.com
The Fresh Market
This retailer blends the variety and vastness of a large chain with the expertise and quality of a smaller-scale specialty food store. The key is continual innovation, close ties to food producers, and a commitment to community involvement. The family-owned business has 100 locations in 21 states. Features include 200 cheeses, 30 varieties of fresh-baked breads and 400 produce items. thefreshmarket.com
ZZest Market & Café
Founded in 2009 by two food professionals, this Rochester, Minn., specialty retailer is a market by day and restaurant by night. ZZest offers a welcome addition to an area that was lacking in options for food lovers. The shelves are stocked with products from small-scale, local producers and vendors from other states with items like charcuterie from Iowa and chutneys from California. The café fare features ingredients from ZZest shelves. zzestmarket.com
About the NASFT
The NASFT is a not-for-profit trade association established in 1952 to foster trade, commerce and interest in the specialty food industry. Today there are more than 2,900 members in the U.S. and abroad. The NASFT's website for consumers, foodspring.com, provides an insider's look at specialty foods and the companies, entrepreneurs and artisans behind them. For information on the NASFT, go to http://www.foodspring.com/about/nasft. For information on the NASFT's Fancy Food Shows, go to http://www.foodspring.com/about/fancy-food.