It all started over a century ago in Cleveland, Ohio at a single location, a humble dairy stand. With grit, integrity and determination the Stouffer family evolved their business from a single dairy stand to full-service restaurants. Today, Stouffer’s is a name brand with 95% brand awareness and is the category leader in loyalty.1
Source: 2021 Prepared Foods Pulse Report, Nov/Dec. 2021
Stouffer's 100th Anniversary
We are proud to announce that the winner of the Stouffer Family Excellence in Foodservice award is Jerry Dicecco, Jr. of Jerry & The Mermaid in Riverhead, NY. Jerry’s story and entrepreneurial spirit stood out to Stouffer’s, who judged submissions based on the three main pillars - innovation, flexibility and determination – upon which the brand was built and still stands today.
“As the case for many foodservice establishments, we found ourselves in a difficult spot trying to keep Jerry & The Mermaid afloat and our staff of 20+ employed during the pandemic,” said Jerry Dicecco, Jr., owner of Jerry & The Mermaid. Determined to keep his family-owned restaurant of 28 years in business, he started thinking of innovative solutions to keep his long-time customers safe while continuing to enjoy the locally sourced seafood dishes the restaurant is known for.
“Our first innovation for the business was opening a walk-up window for takeout when indoor dining was not allowed. Following the walk-up window came the idea for a "quarantine cocktail" program, which helped increase food purchases due to the state requirement for ordering food to accompany alcoholic beverage purchases,” said Dicecco when speaking about his drive to get his business through the pandemic. “Our third innovation went one step further by creating custom produce boxes to feed local families at cost. For $40 we were able to provide 25lbs of fresh produce to feed an average family for 2 weeks. By the sixth week of the program, we had provided 168 families with the produce boxes.”
Jerry’s self-proclaimed proudest accomplishment during this time was founding the non-profit “The Mermaid Project,” which focused on feeding out of work restaurant and hospitality staff members. “We started by personally donating food to local hospital workers, police and first responders. When friends and customers saw what we were doing on social media, there were so many that wanted to help, and we ended up raising over $100,000 to feed out of work hospitality staff,” said Dicecco.
“We are incredibly impressed with Jerry’s dedication to not only his business, but also his community during a very tough time,” said Perry Miele, U.S. Nestlé Professional President & CEO. “Jerry embodies so much of what Stouffer’s stands for, and we are proud to celebrate him and his business in honor of our 100th anniversary.”
With 100 years of history, sometimes it’s easy to forget that Stouffer’s began in foodservice and has always been in the foodservice business. The brand began in 1922 when Abraham Stouffer opened a humble dairy stand in downtown Cleveland where they served buttermilk and crackers. With a keen entrepreneurial spirit, the Stouffer family evolved their business from a single dairy stand to the family favorite it is today.
Jerry has used the Stouffer’s Beef Base and Stouffer’s Chicken Base for soups and sauces. He continued, “The Stouffer’s products are always consistent and have helped us create food that our guests love and have been coming back to enjoy for nearly 30 years.”
As far as the future goes, Jerry wants to continue to provide his customers with quality food and maintain the legacy of his family’s business. “We’re always adapting to the changing environment and needs of our customers. But we love what we do and are dedicated to serving our community for many years to come.”