No-Cost Event on Growing or Launching a Food Business in New Jersey

Panel Discussion Kicking off National Small Business Week with Restaurateurs Joe Leone, Mark Cohen, Whole Foods Market Regional Buyer John Lawson, Food Truck Entrepreneur John Yarusi, Ocean County Health Department, OCVTS Adult Culinary Arts Program/Cuisine on the Green at Atlantis and Rutgers Food Innovation Center

NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College invites entrepreneurs to attend a no-cost, high-impact Foodiepreneur event. The workshop is geared towards people looking to grow or launch a food business in New Jersey such as a restaurant, food truck, commercial food product development and/or artisan goods. This no-cost event will take place on Monday, May 1, 2017, 9:00 am until 12:30 pm at Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ. This event kicks off National Small Business Week. Register at

Foodiepreneur: The Business of Food will give current and potential food entrepreneurs candid insight from the experts into one of the largest industries in our area. The goal of Foodiepreneur is to facilitate a real dialog about topics that are important to entrepreneurs in the food industry. This highly regarded panel is comprised of accomplished entrepreneurs such as Joe Leone, Mark Cohen and John Yarusi as well as the Regional Buyer for Whole Foods Market, John Lawson and essential resource partners such as the Ocean County Health Department, the OCVTS/Cuisine on the Green at Atlantis and Rutgers Food Innovation Center. These panelists have successfully navigated the process of launching and growing food businesses and will discuss their backgrounds, successes, and challenges throughout the process and offer insight to fellow business owners. Whole Foods Market Regional Buyer John Lawson and Rutgers Food Innovation Center will speak on food product development, commercialization, and selection.  The Ocean County Health Department will discuss local guidelines pertaining to food preparation commercial consumption and the OCVTS/Cuisine on the Green at Atlantis will discuss culinary training programs available. A Q&A exchange will conclude this event.

Seating is limited for this for this no-cost event and spots will go fast. To register call 732-842-8685 or click below 


John Lawson: John Lawson has lived in NYC the last 20 years or so, and he’s worked in food retail for nearly all of them.  He has been with Whole Foods Market since 2005, and a Regional Buyer since 2009.  John is most passionate about ethical & sustainable food sources, and in his current role he most enjoys partnering with brands for product development and growth.


Joe Leone: Growing up as an American Italian in Weehawken, NJ Joe Leone Introna found his love for the culinary arts in his Uncle’s Bakery in Union City, at an early age.  Joe comes from humble means and has worked very hard to help his family from a very early age. The bakery is where it all began for Joe, where his passion for breads and pastries were first developed. Then, after many years of learning and perfecting his love of baking artisan bread, he decided to pursue his culinary education and attend Ocean County Vocational Technical School and a prestigious culinary school, he jokingly calls it the school of “hard knocks.” Joe continued his culinary education at a few well known established Jersey Shore specialty markets and bakeries.  While honing his craft, Joe met the love of his life at the age of 19, he decided then, to pursue his American dream with his family’s support and opened Joe Leone’s Italian Specialties on June 2, 1997 at the age of 21.  From that moment Joe has dedicated his passion for culinary excellence, superior customer service and love of food to the Jersey Shore at Joe Leone’s Italian Specialties and Catering.  Joe’s unique handmade breads, fresh mozzarella and both traditional and adapted prepared foods have proven to be the hallmarks of the business & the staples of customer interest. The marriage of traditional and modern American Italian cuisines, developed in his retail markets and introduced by Joe has given the Jersey Shore educational exposure to the Italian culture.

Joe has also played an intimate part as a community leader, mentor and a generous example of a local humanitarian. Joe is a board member of The Food Bank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties, Ocean Medical Center and the Common Ground Grief Center, along with playing an integral role in many local church food pantries. Joe is also an advocate for the One Strong Family mission to create a movement that inspires individuals and organizations to live selflessly and love unconditionally through the message of F.A.M.I.L.Y. (Forget About Me I love You). The F.A.M.I.L.Y. message has been taught and is something Joe spreads awareness about on a daily basis as an advocate for its cause. Joe has brought this message to all of his Team Members at Joe Leone’s for years and believes with his whole heart that Joe Leone’s should make a difference in someone’s life every day. Joe’s contagious passion is evident in his Team Members and the organizations he assists. Joe’s most rewarding philanthropy happens when no one is watching and no one knows about. He likes to remain anonymous and doesn’t solicit any credit when it comes to helping a local family in need. One of Joe’s ongoing fundraising efforts has been to rebuild L’Aquila, Italy after the earthquake that struck there in April 2009. Since the earthquake, Joe Leone’s Italian Specialties, along with supporting donations, has rebuilt La Casa Famiglia orphanage in L’Aquila. Today, the Joe Leone’s L’Aquila Earthquake Relief Fund continues to assist battered women and their children in a new safe house located next to the orphanage associated with Casa Famiglia.


John Yarusi: Over the course of his 25 year career John worked with countless multinational corporations and venture backed start-ups; developing brand strategy, positioning and creative ideation for a myriad of businesses and products. Some of John’s key client relationships included, Honeywell. jetBlue, Cablevision, Unilever and Mercedes-Benz. Leaving his career in New York, John decided it was time to start a new venture and one he had been incubating in his mind for many years. A food truck dedicated to New Jersey one true food – PorkRoll. In 2013 John launched a successful food truck business, aptly named Johnny’s PorkRoll and Coffee Too. Johnny’s PorkRoll and Coffee Too has been delighting Jersey’ites and Non-Jersey’ites alike for over 3 years now.  Most recently a second truck has been put into service to meet the growing demand. Always thinking brand first – Johnny’s PorkRoll plans to develop other brand extensions for the business, beyond just food trucks.


Mark Cohen: Mark Cohen is the co-owner of The Chicken or the Egg restaurant in Beach Haven, NJ. Before opening The Chicken or the Egg in 1991 at the age of 20, Mr. Cohen began his career in the service industry in high school, scooping ice cream, bussing tables, and delivering pizzas. His first job at the Jersey Shore was in the summer of 1990, when he worked at the Ketch bar and restaurant. It was there where he developed the passion for cooking, serving, and business.

In the spring of 1991, after searching fruitlessly for a good place to eat chicken wings, Mr. Cohen, his brother Craig, and former partner Todd Davis decided to take matters into their own hands and open up a wing joint on LBI. Within hours, the boys had a lease in hand and a future to step into.

The original “Chegg” sat 24 people and was the perfect stepping stone for the business. By 1993, the restaurant had outgrown its tiny “shell.” So, the three young entrepreneurs found a bigger spot in Beach Haven where the restaurant currently resides. After a bumpy start, a partner departure, and whole lot of work, the restaurant has blossomed into mecca for wing lovers, tourists, and locals alike. The Chicken or the Egg has received many accolades over the years such as Best Wings in NJ, Best Breakfast, and most recently Chowderfest Champion. Mr. Cohen is still involved in every aspect of the business and works alongside his brother, wife, son and daughter. This “Chegg family” extends to its employees and customers alike.


FIC LogoRutgers Food Innovation Center: The Rutgers Food Innovation Center is a unique business incubation and economic development accelerator program, which is part of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. The Center provides business and technology expertise to startup and established food companies in the mid-Atlantic region, and utilizes its outreach capacity to reach food and agribusinesses throughout the world.


Ocean County Health Department: The Ocean County Health Department, in partnership with their community, is committed to promoting healthy lifestyles and a clean and safe environment. They are dedicated to advocate for and to provide leadership in assuring consistent, quality healthcare in their community. The Ocean County Health Department conducts risk-based inspections of retail food establishments, school cafeterias, and non-profit commercial kitchens in 27 municipalities in Ocean County. They also investigate reported food-borne illnesses and review plans for new food establishments.


OCVTS Adult Culinary Arts Program/Cuisine on the Green at Atlantis: The mission of Ocean County Vocational Technical School is to prepare students for jobs and
careers that meet the progressive demands of business and industry. The OCVTS Adult Culinary Arts Program was developed as a 10-month accelerated program to train adult students in all phases of food preparation and restaurant management.

Through an innovative partnership with the Ocean County (NJ) Department of Parks and Recreation, Ocean County Vocational Technical School was able to appropriate the restaurant facilities at the Atlantis Golf Club in Little Egg Harbor, NJ. Ocean County Vocational Technical School opened the exciting new Ocean County Center for Culinary Arts, Cuisine on the Green at Atlantis in October 2013. Establishing the visionary concept of Cuisine on the Green at Atlantis provides a unique and progressive approach to career preparation.



For more information about this event, as well as information about America’s SBDC New Jersey at Brookdale Community College, please visit

The America’s Small Business Development Center New Jersey network leverages funding from the Small Business Administration (SBA), New Jersey State Government, the educational institutions that host the 12 centers as well as other private sponsorships and grants. The ASBDC New Jersey Headquarters is located at the Rutgers Business School in Newark, NJ. The ASBDC New Jersey network is an accredited member of the National Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC). More than 1,000 centers and satellite offices serve small businesses across the country. Visit