By: Margie Pensak – Baltimore Jewish Life
Seasons Kosher Supermarket of Baltimore has been purchased by Yossi Rubashkin of Crown Heights and will remain open under his new management, Baltimore Jewish life reported.
Yossi Rubashkin, owner of Meat Maven and Tevya’s Ranch products, and his son, Shalom Rubashkin, Regional Manager of Seasons Meat Maven, who will be assuming ownership/management of the store after the deal is finalized next week, spoke with Margie Pensak of Baltimore Jewish life.
“Our goal would be to make the entire store as successful as the Meat Maven department, which offers service and quality at an affordable price for families, and weekly super specials at bottom prices,” notes Shalom. “You don’t have to pay top dollar to get great service and a great quality product. We’d love to copy that for the rest of the store.”
Meat Maven first opened up over nine years ago. In addition to its Baltimore location, it is located in nine other locations, including Lakewood, Clifton, Monsey, Great Neck, Lawrence, Queens, and Rockville, Maryland. It is the tenth anniversary of Tevya’s Ranch, born from the ashes of Agriprocessors, formerly owned by the wider Rubashkin family.
Although the Rubashkins never ran a supermarket, they feel that a lot of the philosophy they used to run just one department in the store, can be applied to run the rest of the departments, successfully.
As Shalom explains, “Opportunity knocked and we answered. You look for the best way to use your buying power and look into different deals that allow you to pass the savings on to your customers. A central philosophy, from the beginning, when the business was wholesale—even before Meat Maven– is having affordable pricing. A business has to have a profit, but if a regular person can afford to eat meat not only on Succos and Pesach, that’s a win.”
Although Shalom continues to say that the new store will welcome all suggestions from the community, for example, if customers are looking for a specific product that never made it to Baltimore from New York, Yossi clarifies, “Every community has its tastes and flavor and we are willing to hear and accommodate it. We are not coming to bring New York here, we are coming to make Baltimore the best it could be.”
As Shalom mentions, when Meat Maven first came here, he was told that Baltimore is “Turkey Town”—turkey products sell a lot more here than they do in other places. He adds, “Things are in the making, but you can already expect specials and staple products at the best possible prices. Accommodating customers’ needs, for example, accepting WIC vouchers, is one of the first things we are looking into for our customers.”
The new management is looking into all options based on customer interest, from selling generic brands to opening up an on-premises, sit-down eatery and coffeehouse. One thing that is already solidified in the early makeover stage, is Shloime’s Heimishe Bakery’s plan of making fresh bagels, donuts and other products on site, rather than finishing off par-baked items, as they are typically produced in out-of-town bakeries.
Former Seasons employees who want to stay on under the new management, will be given the chance to keep their jobs. As Yossi says, “We respect people.”
While pointing out Meat Maven’s four different lines of meat—organic, pasture free-range, grain finished, and Black Angus—longtime Seasons employee and Meat Maven manager, Eli Siegel, explains that the whole concept of Meat Maven was revolutionary.
“It was the patriarch of the Rubashkin family, Yossi’s father, Avraham Aharon Rubashkin –Aaron’s Best namesake–who started the concept of packaging meat 30 or 40 years ago, when he owned his first butcher shop in Brooklyn. Up until then, butcher shops had cows and butchers cut up customized orders. Showcasing pre-packaged meat was a new invention…Even today, Meat Maven is always thinking, trying to think ahead of the game, how we can improve, staying up to date, how to be more efficient and maximize productivity.
“I think it will be very good for the community—there’s a need in the community for another option,” shares Eli. “Competition is great, as you can see—everyone is stepping up their game for quality, presentation, and prices. There’s a new boy in town and everybody’s got to catch up and stay with the program. That’s what we’re doing here, by trying to provide high quality, fresh products that are affordable.”