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Bob Trunz (right) and his older brother Charles (now deceased) with Dave Garroway, the original host of the Today Show on NBC.

The Trunz Food Store on Port Washington Boulevard is celebrating the centennial anniversary of the founding of the company. Trunz Food Stores, Inc. was founded in 1904 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, by Max Trunz, grandfather of the current president, Bob Trunz. Max Trunz immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1895. "He was on the boat with Schaeffer, Bohack, and all those guys," said Bob Trunz. Max took over a lard company, which he expanded into a pork store. Other stores followed, until there were 85 Trunz pork stores all over Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Staten Island, as well as a 320,000-square-foot plant by the Kosciusko Bridge. During World War II, the company was a supplier for the United States military. During that period, they added other meats to their offerings. Many people still have fond memories of the Trunz meat markets. Following are a few sample comments from Brooklyn-based forums on the Internet: "We went to Trunz's meat market and there was always sawdust on the floor; the butcher gave me bologna." "I loved playing with the wood shavings on the floor. The chunks of beef would be ground into chop [sic] meat right in front of you. The soup bones were free, and if you had a big order the butcher would throw in a free chop or a couple of ribs. At Easter time the showcase had sheep's heads." Another longtime Brooklyn resident (to whom we happen to be married) said, "I remember shopping in the Bay Ridge store with my mother. They had the best bologna in the world."

A conveyor line "boning out" hams. Bob Trunz (second from right) was in his 20s; Charles Trunz is fifth from right.

Trunz went into the full supermarket business in 1975. "We figured people wanted one-stop shopping," said Trunz. The first supermarket opened in Stapleton, Staten Island, followed by markets in Brooklyn and Queens. The Port Washington market was opened about 20 years ago; it was previously a Gristedes. According to Ed Wallace, operations manager and store manager, "We have renovated at least six times." Recently the store has updated all their refrigerated and frozen food cases, updated the deli, filled the foyer with fresh flowers and plants, installed state-of-the-art scanning registers, and had wall murals painted that depict (among other things) the old Trunz truck.

Trunz is a family-owned company now in its fourth generation. Bob Trunz, a longtime Port Washington resident, began working in the Brooklyn plant at 18 in the bologna kitchen. "I remember getting up to be there at 5 in the morning," he said. His five adult children have worked in the stores since they were teenagers, and now are employed at the Swan Club, which was acquired by the company about ten years ago. With 11 grandchildren, it seems likely that the next generation is accounted for. "It is a wholly family-owned company, and it will stay that way," Trunz said emphatically.

Although a cliché, it is true that Trunz employees are like family and tend to stay with the company a long time. Wallace has been with Trunz for 23 years, 20 in this store. The deli manager told us proudly, "I came here when I was 18 and in trouble. I have been here for 17 years. This is my family." He added, "I met my wife at Trunz." Wallace said that the average tenure is around 15 years, and some employees have been with Trunz 18 years or longer.

Trunz prides itself on providing personal service to its customers. "Our customers and our personnel know each other by name," said Wallace. Trunz pointed out that they keep on hand a jumper for dead batteries, have helped people who lock themselves out of their car, and extend courtesy to those who realize on checkout that they have left their wallets at home. Claudia Dolinar, Port resident for 38 years and longtime community activist, recently wrote to the Port Washington News to relate the story of her Thanksgiving turkey. "About ten years ago," she wrote, "I purchased a 'fresh-killed' turkey at Trunz. With about a dozen people coming to dinner, I got up early and unwrapped the turkey only to discover that the turkey had a horrible smell. I was in a panic. My son Bennett, who went to school with one of the Trunz children, suggested I call them." She phoned Mr. Trunz who told her to throw out the smelly turkey and for her to meet the manager (Ed Wallace) at the store to pick up a fresh turkey. The day was saved. "That was the ultimate Thanksgiving gift," said Dolinar. "I still shop at Trunz. The guys in the meat department tease me about my husband's fussiness because he insists on freshly ground beef for his hamburgers." When we related this story to Trunz and Wallace, they both expressed surprise that a customer would still remember and relate that story. "Wow, that was a long time ago," they said.

Another testimonial came from Lou Campanelli, Port resident, onetime supermarket owner and consultant to supermarkets, now SCORE's director of Strategic Alliances, said, "They are hard-working, nice people who maintain a high quality store. They have served Port Washington and Manhasset very well over the years."

Although Trunz prides itself on old-fashioned service, the market's offerings are kept up to date. "We have all the items that the gigantic stores have," said Wallace, "just not as many of each item. And, if we don't have something you want, we will try to get it." He added, "You can get in and out of here in 20 minutes." Responding to busy families' need for quick food, the Trunz deli and meat department offer many ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat items, and there is a full-service bakery. A recent addition is a sushi bar, where sushi is freshly prepared every day. The take-out area recently added home cooking by Pia, who has been with Trunz about 13 years. "It feels like home here," she said. Every day Pia cooks Italian-style items like meatballs, marinara sauce, eggplant parmigiana, eggplant rollatini, chicken parmigiana, baked ziti, chicken cacciatore, and others. Recently she added roast pork chops at a customer's request. (According to Pia, the customer said, "My husband will never believe I am cooking all this tomato sauce. Can you make me something else?") Pia proudly told us of a party for 120 people that she had just done the previous weekend. "It was absolutely beautiful," she said. "The customer was so happy she sent me 51 roses and a cupcake for my birthday." Pia will do special orders if given enough time, even for a small gathering or a family dinner.

Meat is still Trunz's specialty; they offer a large selection of fresh, high-quality meats. They have a good selection of packaged and ready-to-heat meats. Or, if you prefer, the very jovial and friendly group of butchers will cut meat to your specifications. Trunz also provides fish and fresh produce, including some organic.

In addition to catering, Trunz will make up gift baskets. The store, which is located at 364 Port Washington Boulevard, opens every day at 8 a.m. They close at 8 pm Monday through Wednesday, 9 p.m. Thursday through Friday, and 7 p.m. Sunday. The telephone is 516-883-8070.

When asked what his vision is for the next hundred years, Bob Trunz said, "Gee, I hadn't thought of that until you asked. We will just trying to keep satisfying the customers in Port Washington. This is our store and our home town."


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