PARAMUS, NJ – Stew Leonard’s was the place Martha Stewart shopped at for the ingredients she used to craft her most famous recipes, fed the milk machine quarters, and admired the animal farm.
This past Monday, September 16, during the retail dairy store’s 50th year in operation, the culinary titan returned to her native Garden State to launch the soft opening of the new Paramus location at the Paramus Park Mall off Route 17 North, which opened officially to the public this morning.
“I’m just so happy for Stew, and Stew, that they finally have a store in New Jersey, because that’s where I was born, Nutley,” said Stewart with CEO and president Stew Leonard, Jr. before a cheering crowd after tasting one of the store's potato chips.
Stewart went on to note that the Garden State grows the best tomatoes and blueberries, and congratulated the Leonard family on the impending success of their “beautiful store.” The day’s occasion was dear to Stewart, as it would have marked her mother’s 108th birthday.
The new supermarket – situated in place of the shuttered Sears department store, which had anchored the Paramus Park Mall from 1974 to 2018 – is the seventh location after its three stores in New York, and another three in Connecticut. The Paramus location not only ushers in a continued legacy of excellence, (Stew Leonard’s made Fortune Magazine’s annual list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For in America" for a straight decade), but 350 new jobs as well.
Stew Leonard’s prides itself on its agricultural concept. Since its 1969 opening by Stew Leonard, Sr., the stores have gotten fresh milk delivered daily from dairy farms in upstate New York and Connecticut, and has become known as the largest dairy store in the world with yearly sales reaching a whopping $400 million. The business dates back to the early 20th Century, when Charles Leo Leonard began Clover Farms Dairy in the town of Norwalk, Connecticut, which currently houses Stew Leonard’s headquarters. That premises had a pasteurizing and bottling plant onsite, and received a daily delivery of fresh milk, the trucks of which had plastic cows that sounded to the delight of local youngsters.
Stew Leonard’s carried that same charm over to their east coast locations, and to the new Paramus store. At the soft opening Monday night, which ushered in at least 200 eager shoppers – and true to tradition – a plastic cow made the same “moo” sound in addition to the mooing of two live cows – a caramel colored one and a black one (the former was draped with a green cloak emblazoned with the word Martha, its new name).
While a few people posed for pictures with the cows and a lucky few snagged photos with Stewart, herds dispersed to the myriad tables that displayed samples of freshly baked, sugar-coated donuts, garden-fresh lettuce tossed with a light vinaigrette, cups of rosé and Pinot Grigio, hot dogs, and bites of salmon that tasted fresh from the daily catch.
Guests also got a first-look at Stew Leonard's many departments, which were stocked with endless wine bottles, meats, fish, cheeses, baked goods, and a colorful array of produce (Peter “Produce Pete” Napolitano, who many may know from his weekly fruit and vegetable segments on WNBC, was also in attendance). If you weren’t already singing from this handsome display, just sing along to the life-sized plastic Chiquita Banana that belts out her signature theme in the produce section!
Martha Stewart fans will also be tickled to know that the new Paramus store carries the coveted Martha Stewart meal kits and coffees. In the words of the beloved television personality: “It’s a good thing!”