Although Stew Leonard’s grand opening was on Aug. 23 in East Meadow, the store continues to thrive, as it promotes a family-friendly environment for its employees and customers.
“Stew’s is all about the experience,” Brittney Tavello said. Tavello is a third-generation member of the Leonard family, and currently works at the East Meadow location. “We pride ourselves on being both a fun place to work and shop. Happy team members make happy customers,” she continued.
It all started at Norwalk, Conn. in 1969, where the original Stew Leonard’s opened up. There are now currently six stores, two of them on Long Island, in Farmingdale and East Meadow. “Being a family business, it is easy to create and perpetuate such supportive work culture,” Tavello said.
Stew Leonard’s has three second-generation family members, including Stew Jr., Beth and Jill, as well as three additional third-generation members, including Blake, Jake and Tavello, all whom work at the store. Vitello said that the reason why the store is a strong family-oriented work place is because they all have a vested interest in each others’ success, which allows them to work as a team.
“Stew’s is unlike any other shopping experience,” Tovello said. “Stew Leonard’s brings the wow factor to their customers.” Aside from the fresh produce, fresh cookies, which are made right in front of you, and an array of food stations, the store contains 11 animatronics that easily entertain shoppers.
“My favorite aspect about working for Stew’s is how the company grows team members,” Tovello said. “So many of us have created a career here at Stew’s.”
Tovello added that it is a place where employees can grow and discover themselves as people. There are many opportunities for high school students, as they can develop and strengthen their skill sets with classroom training, leadership development programs, on-the-job training, and more. Tovello said that working at the store helped her strengthen her skills, as she first worked as an ice cream hostess, and nine years later, became the human resource specialist at the East Meadow store.
The store currently holds collection bins in its East Meadow location, where customers can donate non-perishable items like canned goods, pasta, and more. The store then doubles the amount of food donated by customers each week, donating it all to nearby organizations. Tavello said that after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas earlier this month, Stew Leonard’s formed a partnership with the Red Cross to donate as much food as possible.
The East Meadow store has created nearly 400 jobs, while creating several community outreach programs, including partnerships with local schools.
“Whether it is your first job, a part time job after school, or a summer job, Stew Leonard’s is such a great place to work,” Tavello said.
Julia Cuttone is a contributing writer for the East Meadow Herald. She is a junior at East Meadow High School, and hopes to pursue writing in the future.