SARATOGA SPRINGS – On Dec. 4, Food & Wine Magazine released a list of the top convenience store chains in the nation and ranked Stewart’s Shops number three.
“We’re humbled by the honor, but we do think Stewart’s is a great place to stop,” said Stewart’s Spokesperson Erica Komoroske, noting that they had no idea the list was being compiled and they might figure so prominently on it. “We do pride ourselves in what we do, offering so much to so many.”
A household name in the Valley, Stewart’s is based in Saratoga Springs and has 336 shops in the eastern half of New York and Southern Vermont. It has been privately owned by the Dake family since 1945. The current president is the third generation of Dakes to run the company.
But what earned its rank as number three in the nation, according to Food & Wine, is Stewart’s devotion to providing a wide array of quality products to customers – much of it made by Stewart’s in-house at the Saratoga Springs plant.
“We’re much more than a convenience store,” Komoroske said. “We’ve had a lot of growth over the past couple years, especially in our ‘Food To Go.’”
Stewart’s offers more fresh, hot food options than the average convenience store, she said, from soups, chili and macaroni and cheese, to cheese burgers, breakfast sandwiches and pizza. And, of course, there’s the ice cream. Food & Wine calls the amount of ice cream produced and sold by Stewart’s “impressive.”
“In a lot of the small towns we’re in, we serve as ice cream shop, diner, grocery store and meeting place,” Komoroske said.
And Stewart’s customers are a faithful bunch. Mike Carbone and Mark Nicastro, both of Frankfort, say they visit their local Stewart’s daily.
“I come for the coffee,” Carbone said, adding that he’s been a Stewart’s customer for many years. “It’s the best coffee in the world.”
“And not only ours here, all Stewart’s are very accommodating and clean,” Nicastro added. “The food is good. I like that they put out eggnog for coffee.”
Another aspect setting Stewart’s apart from the rest is the company’s dedication to its employees. According to Komoroske, 40 percent of Stewart’s stock is owned by its 5200 employees, or “partners.” With generous profit sharing and an ESOP plan, Stewart’s has reportedly made millionaires out of 70 employees, according to the Food & Wine list.
Not noted by the magazine, but equally laudable, is Stewart’s generosity to the community through its Holiday Match Program. During the annual campaign, which runs from Thanksgiving to Christmas, Stewart’s matches every cent donated by customers. The money is then disbursed to various local, children-focused non-profits. Last year, $2 million was raised and donated, Komoroske said. In the program’s 33-year history, Stewart’s has donated a total of $28 million.
Locally, Stewart’s Shops are located in Frankfort, Ilion, Herkimer and Little Falls.
Topping the Food & Wine list is Texas-based Buc-ee’s, followed by Wawa at number two. Byrne Dairy, another Central New York staple, came in at number 18. Find the complete Food & Wine list at https://www.foodandwine.com/travel/restaurants/best-convenience-stores-america-ranked-food?utm_term=CFBA21E2-16DD-11EA-9434-160AFDA12A29&utm_campaign=foodandwine_foodandwine&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_content=link&fbclid=IwAR0jPMksalUbII0pVlNJRTd9NO3LBns8Kd_GQBcHHG-H1UlMZXJC0qU-QX8