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NORWALK, Conn. -- Stew Leonard's here opened its doors of its long-anticipated fourth store, in Newington, Conn. -- its first new location in eight years -- on Saturday at 8 a.m., welcoming customers with the Farm Fresh Five, dancing animatronic milk cartons that sing about how fun it is to shop at the individualistic family-owned retailer, which has grown from a single dairy store into a regional phenomenon.
"If this new store is filled with happy customers, it will make my mom and dad proud," said president and c.e.o. Stew Leonard Jr. in a statement. The Leonard family founded the Norwalk Dairy Company in 1920, and Stew Leonard, Sr., opened the first Stew Leonard's retail dairy store in 1969 in Norwalk. Since then, the company has expanded to Danbury, Connecticut and Yonkers, New York.
Among the features of the new location are a single aisle that winds through the store's 113,000 square feet; a giant Farmers' Market of just picked, often local produce; 100 freshly made, chef-prepared gourmet items on the buffet, which also offers best-selling family recipes from Mrs. Leonard; a 200-seat mezzanine dining area (a Stew Leonard's first); products such as baked goods, fresh mozzarella, sushi, soup, pizza, and freshly brewed coffee made on the premises daily in front of customers; milk delivered fresh from the company's award-winning Ellington, Conn. dairy farm; demos of over 100 free samples of best-selling items and new products each week in every department; and eight state-of-the-art animatronics, including four new "shows" unique to the Newington store: Miss Diva Cheese, Bread Chimes, The Wonderful World of Milk, and Three Chicks and a Rooster.
Employing 420 Team Members, 60 percent of whom are full-time, the Newington store is open 8:00 A.M. until 10:00 P.M., seven days a week (except Christmas Day). Additional stores are planned for Orange, Conn. and East Farmingdale, N.Y.