Kitchen for ‘human-grade’ dog food coming to New Castle
By Peter Osborne
NEW CASTLE — JustFoodforDogs is finalizing plans to start construction on a “human-grade commissary” that will produce 35,000 to 40,000 pounds of fresh, highly nutritious dog food per day for kitchens, pantries, and stores along the East Coast when it opens this fall.
The “kitchen” will open with about 30 people at 200 Centerpoint Blvd., said Carey Tischler, CEO of the Irvine, California-based pioneer of the whole-food movement for pets. The company is still evaluating project bids for construction.
JFFD was one of the early successes of the state’s public-private economic development agency, Delaware Prosperity Partnership, when it announced in December 2018 that it had chosen Delaware over New Jersey for its first East Coast distribution center. The company received a $170,000 performance-based Strategic Fund grant from the Council on Development Finance following its meeting in late November. JFFD pledged to employ 50 people within three years and invest $1.5 million to $1.7 million in capital as part of the grant requirements.
“Both Delaware and New Jersey were fantastic options,” Tischler said, adding that the tipping point for Delaware was the support of the local community (including workforce development) and New Castle was more advantageous from a geographic standpoint.
“JustFoodforDogs is a great example of economic development at work,” said Kurt Forman, president and CEO of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership. “JustFoodforDogs is a brand that I think we will hear more and more about as the company grows. We’re delighted they chose Delaware; it speaks to a part of DPP’s mission, which is to build stronger communities one job at a time.”
JFFD operates 30 locations in New York and New Jersey, with most of those being stores inside of mega-pet retailer Petco. Tischler said he expects to have 75 stores in New York, New Jersey, and Boston by the end of 2019 with more to come in 2020 and 2021. The New Castle commissary will serve all the East Coast stores, including future locations between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., he said.
The company operates open kitchens where customers can come in and watch chefs make 2,000 pounds of food per day; the stores within stores such as Petco and successful veterinary hospitals; and then commissary locations like the new one in New Castle.
A team of 10 in-house veterinarians formulates the meals using only fresh, whole-food ingredients that are USDA-certified for human consumption — and yes, Tischler has tasted all the products.
One of those in-house vets is Dr. Nina Pusateri, a 2011 graduate of the University of Delaware.