Stew Leonard's

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Stew Leonard's
Industry Grocery store
Founded 1969 (1969) (Norwalk, Connecticut)
Headquarters Norwalk, Connecticut
Key people
Stew Leonard, Jr., President & CEO
Products Food
Revenue $341 million (2011)[1]
Number of employees

Stew Leonard's is a chain of five supermarkets in Connecticut and New York which Ripley's Believe It or Not! deemed "The World's Largest Dairy", with Fortune magazine listing Stew Leonard's as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For".[2]

Opened in 1969 with seven employees[3] in Norwalk, Connecticut, the chain now includes five stores in Connecticut and New York.[4][5] The newest location opened in August 2017 in East Meadow, New York.[6]


Clover Farms Dairy[edit]

Charles Leonard, a hatter in a sweatshop,[7] founded Clover Farms Dairy in Norwalk, CT in the early 1920s.[3]

First store[edit]

In 1969, Stew Leonard opened the Clover Farms Dairy store in Norwalk.


Stew Leonard acquired land for a second store in Danbury, Connecticut in the mid-1980s. The store opened in 1991.[8]

Stew Leonard's announced plans to open a store in Yonkers, New York in 1997.[9] The store opened in September 1999.[10]

The Leonard family began working to open a store on Long Island in 2002.[11] However, plans to open a store across from the Republic Airport in Farmingdale, New York fell through.[12] In 2015, Stew Leonard's announced plans to open a store in Farmingdale in early 2016.[11][12] The store opened in January 2016.[13]

A store in Newington, Connecticut was announced in February 2006 and opened in April 2007.[14][15]

Tax fraud[edit]

In 1993, Stew Leonard Sr. was convicted of committing tax fraud through an elaborate scheme to divert more than $17.1 million in cash register receipts over a ten-year period.[16][17][7] The fraud involved a computer program designed to skim off sales. The fraud was directed by Stew Leonard Sr. in concert with the company's CFO and store manager. Skimmed cash was placed in bundles in Leonard Sr.'s office fireplace, to be later moved offshore or disguised as gifts.[18][19] Leonard Sr. was caught in June 1991 carrying $80,000 cash en route to the island of Saint Martin.[18][20]

Stew Leonard Sr. plead guilty to the charges and in 1993 was sentenced to 52 months in prison.[21][7] He ultimately served 44 months before being released in June 1997.[22]


In 1993, shortly after Stew Leonard and three executives had plead guilty in the tax fraud case, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection charged Stew Leonard's with short-weighting customers on multiple products. The department measured a 47% violation rate, compared with a statewide average of 7.2%. Stew Leonard Jr. and Tom Leonard denied that these actions were intentional and claimed that "a larger percentage of products checked were, in fact, overweight than underweight" and that "we corrected every [mistake] before the inspector even left the store."[23]


There are currently three stores in Connecticut:

  • Norwalk, opened in 1969
  • Danbury, opened in 1991
  • Newington, opened in 2007

There are three stores in New York:

  • Yonkers, opened in 1999
  • Farmingdale, opened in 2016
  • East Meadow, opened in 2017

Features and layout[edit]

The New York Times called Stew Leonard's the "Disneyland of Dairy Stores."[24] The stores are not set up like traditional grocery stores; one must walk through the entire store (though there are short cuts). As customers walk through a path of aisles, they are greeted by different employees dressed up in costumes and by animatronic characters called the "Farm Fresh Five" that perform songs and dance.[citation needed] The stores also feature petting zoos and outdoor cafes in the warmer months and sell a variety of prepared meals year round.

"Anyone who comes from Connecticut or thereabouts knows this landmark chain of grocery stores where mechanized cows sing and roosters crow," according to a writer for the Sun-Sentinel of Florida.[25]

Corporate philosophy[edit]

Customer service[edit]

The store is notable for its customer-service policy, which greets shoppers at each store's entrance etched into a three-ton rock:[26]

  1. The customer is always right.
  2. If the customer is ever wrong, re-read rule #1.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Stew Leonard's Store Fact Sheet" (PDF). January 16, 2012. Retrieved August 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ "100 Best Companies to work for 2011". Fortune Magazine. Fortune Magazine. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Stew Leonard; Scotty Reiss (2009). Stew Leonard: My Story. Colle & Co., Publishers. 
  4. ^ Stern, Neil. "The Magic Of Stew Leonard's Dairy Comes To Long Island". Forbes. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  5. ^ Zeveloff, Julie. "13 reasons Stew Leonard's is actually the best grocery store in America". Business Insider. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c David Whitford (November 1, 2002). "Back From The Brink". Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  8. ^ Eleanor Charles (May 20, 1990). "Legend of Stew Leonard's Adding a Danbury Chapter". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  9. ^ Lisa W. Foderaro (November 25, 1997). "Stew Leonard's Plans Big Store in Yonkers, Singing Cows Included". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  10. ^ Mary McAleer Vizard (September 1, 1999). "Stew Leonard's and Other Stores Set for Yonkers". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  11. ^ a b Adina Genn (February 10, 2015). "Stew Leonard's to Open in Farmingdale". Patch. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  12. ^ a b Aisha Al-Muslim (February 10, 2015). "Stew Leonard's grocery store coming to Farmingdale". Newsday. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  13. ^ Aisha Al-Muslim (January 7, 2016). "Stew Leonard’s set to open in Farmingdale this month". Newsday. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  14. ^ "Stew Leonard's opens new store in Newington". The Hour. February 5, 2006. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  15. ^ Nicholas M. DiMaio (April 12, 2007). "Stew's in Newington: Arriving Fresh in April". The Caldor Rainbow. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  16. ^ Steinberg, Jaques. "Connecticut Store Owner Sentenced in Tax Fraud". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  17. ^ Fritz, Sara. "A Sour End to Dairy Scam : Retailing Genius Stew Leonard May Face Jail for Hiding $17.1 Million From the IRS in a Tax Fraud Case". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  18. ^ a b STEINBERG, JACQUES. "Papers Show Greed, Calculation and Betrayal in Stew Leonard Fraud Case". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  19. ^ Thompson Ainsworth, Richard. "Zappers: Technology-Assisted Tax Fraud, SSUTA, and the Encryption Solutions". The American Barr Association. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  20. ^ Lavoie, Denise. "Prominent Entrepreneur Pleads Guilty to Massive Tax Fraud". Associated Press News Archive. Associated Press. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  21. ^ Steinberg, Jaques. "Connecticut Store Owner Sentenced in Tax Fraud". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  22. ^ Gattuso, Greg. "STEW LEONARD SR. LEAVES PRISON". Supermarket News. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  23. ^ Ari L. Goldman (August 19, 1993). "Weight Charges Filed Against Stew Leonard's". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  24. ^ Miller,Bryan (June 22, 1983). "In Norwalk, A 'Disneyland' Dairy Store". The New York Times. Retrieved January 24, 2016. 
  25. ^ Hartz-Seeley, Deborah (December 17, 2007). "A trip north takes me to Stew Leonard's that reminds me of Penn Dutch". Retrieved December 20, 2007. 
  26. ^ "The History of Stew Leonard's". Retrieved August 21, 2012.