4:18 pm EST, Monday, December 9, 2019
Photo: Dan Haar/Hearst Connecticut Media
Gov. Ned Lamont on Monday recalled being a single guy living in Westport, buying food and — we suppose — milk at Stew Leonard’s, the Norwalk retailer. For him and a lot of other folks, the dairy store, now with seven locations in three states, made food shopping fun.
Lamont toasted — with milk in champagne glasses — 50 years of Stew Leonard’s, and the 90th birthday of founder Stew Leonard Sr., on the north steps of the state Capitol Monday. Naturally, he broadened the message to describe the way the store disrupted the old milk-delivery business where Stew Leonard’s had its roots since 1921.
“That’s what an entrepreneur is all about, you learn to change, you evolve,” Lamont said. “You made it an event and that’s why Stew Leonard’s is such a great Connecticut institution.”
The store now has locations in Norwalk, Newington and Danbury, with 1,200 employees in Connecticut alone. It also has two locations on Long Island, one in Yonkers and most recently, one in Paramus, N.J. Total sales are $500 million a year.
“The Lamonts have been great customers over the years,” Stew Leonard Jr. said.
As Leia the heifer from UConn — not yet a cow — climbed back onto a truck, Leonard explained that milk delivery continued for a few years after the fall 1969 store opening. Delivery is now back again, with the Instacart system, he said.
“We’re proud to be in the state of Connecticut and today is a day to celebrate that,” Leonard said.
These days, Stew Leonard’s is no longer a milk processor or producer; it buys from Guida’s Dairy, with 70 percent sourced from Connecticut cows.
The family gave Lamont a package of cookies, prompting the governor to quip, “We can give these to the anti-tolls people to cheer them up.”
With that, he took questions on tolls from the media, with those anti-tolls protesters silently holding placards inside the thick Capitol doors.
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