Guilford-Based Group Buys Guilford Food Center
Guilford Food Center owners Ray and Ron Rosa are readying to hand over ownership of the family’s landmark Guilford Green shop to Guilford residents Dee Jacob and Jason Iglesias, who will run the store as The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center. Both Rosas will remain involved with the store, which will be remodeled and will add an indoor café area. (Photo courtesy of EJ Vongher
Good news for those who love their local: Longtime Guilford residents Dee Jacob and Jason Iglesias have bought the Guilford Food Center and plan to re-open it later this spring as an expanded marketplace with an indoor café.
Additionally, the new owners plan to retain Ron and Ray Rosa, owners of the Food Center, as part of the new operation, which will be called The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center.
Ron Rosa will direct operations in the meat and delicatessen departments. Ray Rosa will direct operations in the catering department.
Jacob, chief operating officer of the new business, would not disclose the price paid for the Food Center “because it is not yet final,” but did state, “We got it for a great price.”
The Whitfield Street store, which has been in business for 45 years, had been on the market for $1.175 million. The Village Chocolatier, next door at 79 Whitfield Street, which currently rents space from the Food Center, will continue to operate as is, according to Jacob.
The new business, the owners said, will retain many aspects of the Food Center, but will expand to not only include on-premise seating, but also will have a variety of hot and cold beverages, as well as marketplace-style food kiosks in partnership with local fruit, vegetable, cheese, and bakery providers.
“Bill Rosa and the Rosa family created a shoreline institution in the Guilford Food Center,” said Jacob. “We could not be happier that they have agreed to stay with us as we shape this new marketplace and café for the people of Guilford and surrounding shoreline towns.
The new owners said that staffing will be one place in which their respect for what the Rosas have accomplished will be shown.
“The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center will feature many familiar faces to current customers as well as some new faces to help expand on the vision of Bill Rosa and his family,” said Jacob.
The seating area in the reopened store will accommodate up to 40 patrons for breakfast, lunch, dinners, and snacks.
“We want to create an environment where local residents and visitors alike can shop for quality food, gather for a bite, or to just meet and enjoy a drink in a casual yet comfortable environment,” said Iglesias, who will be the general manager of the store. “Guilford is about community, and we’re offering a spot at the center of this community for both casual, spontaneous get-togethers or more formal gatherings.”
Ron Rosa said, “I am happy that my family and I will continue to serve our many dedicated customers for their meal and deli needs. I am very excited to be part of The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center.”
His brother, Ray Rosa, added, “I’m so glad that The Marketplace and I will continue to serve the community for their catering needs. I look forward to our expanded offerings.”
The agreement that will keep this local landmark in local hands has made quite a few people happy.
“I am extremely excited to learn about The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center, a new concept for an established Guilford business,” said First Selectman Joseph Mazza. “This is a wonderful transformation of an existing Guilford enterprise that will bring new vitality to downtown Guilford and the surrounding area of the Green.”
“It’s a win-win for all involved,” said Economic Development Director Brian McGlone. “It is fortunate to have the Rosa family remaining involved. It is also fortunate that the new owners are Guilford residents and committed to our community.”
Space will be set aside in the new store, Jacob said, for local civic and school organizations to use for a variety of purposes. Groups like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, local sports teams, or school organizations and clubs will be able to use the space to promote events.
Jacob said the marketplace concept will provide a number of market-style kiosks featuring a variety of food offerings from local providers.
Jacob, who has lived in Guilford since 1991, has had a two-decade tenure in the food manufacturing, supply chain, and continuous improvement functions at Procter & Gamble. She moved to Connecticut to become a partner at the Avraham Y. Goldratt Institute, at which she focused on constraint management business strategy and supply chain and project management with a variety of businesses ranging from small to Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. Air Force and Navy. She was elected as managing partner from 2006 to 2012.
In 2013, she founded a new business, consultancy VelosCT, for which she serves as chief executive officer. Over the years, she has consulted with numerous retail chains, including many of the smaller food stores of the D’Agostino chain in New York.
Many insights and observations from her years as a business consultant can be found in the business novel she co-authored, Velocity—Combining Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints to Achieve Breakthrough Business Performance.
In her spare time, Jacob is heavily involved in the Guilford community with the Girl Scouts, St. George Church, Guilford Fund for Education, DAY, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the initial Soundview Y capital campaign.
Iglesias was born and raised in Guilford. He began working at age 15 as a busboy at Bistro on the Green in Guilford; coincidentally, this was also his introduction to the Guilford Food Center, where he periodically had to purchase produce for the restaurant.
After working New York and New Haven restaurants, he moved to Texas, where he worked at the landmark Austin restaurant Manuel’s.
He left the food industry in 2000 for retail management positions at Tumi and Kenneth Cole, wherein he ultimately became a troubleshooter and turn-around manager at problematic locations.
In 2007, he returned to the food industry, working the front of the house for a variety of New York City restaurant groups including BR Guest Hospitality, Craft Restaurants, the Standard Hotel group, and, most recently, at Major Food Group, at which he was part of the team to open Dirty French in Manhattan’s trendy Lower East Side.