Rastelli Food Groups, Swedesboro, says it's agreed to market Tony Luke's Old Philly Style Sandwiches in supermarkets worldwide, in a deal with South Philly sandwich-maker Tony Lucidonio Jr.
UPDATE: "We are franchising Tony Luke's in the U.S. and internationally," and in the Middle East where Rastelli's works with local distributors, said Richard Gauger, director of business planning and development at Rastelli's. The franchised product is frozen Tony Luke's cheesesteaks, chicken cheesesteak and chickn cutlet sandwiches. There's also a sliced lamb sandwich for use in Arab countries where Muslims don't eat pork. "It's a higher price point, but they're willing to pay it."
Frozen Tony Luke's sandwiches will roll out through various supermarkets in April. "Two per box, in a freezer case, it can be done. Bread and meet-with-cheese, in separate bags. Do it in the oven. Or boil it in the bag. Or three and a half minutes in a microwave." Last month (as my colleague Michael Klein reported) Tony Luke's sold out 900 "family packs," 10 to a case, on QVC TV from West Chester. "He's going back there a week from Saturday with 1,700 boxes."
Rastelli's and Tony Luke's met through the personal friendship of Ray Rastelli 3d and Tony Lucidonio 3d, Gauger added. Rastelli was started by butcher Ray Rastelli Jr. (he still owns the Meat Stop in Deptford). His father, in turn, was president of the former Bluebird Food Products, once one of the strikingist plants on the South Philadelphia labor map.
Rastelli has a meat-portion processing plant in Swedesboro; a military and commercial supplier, Rastelli Global, "that ships about 200 containers a week" from Pureland Industrial Park, near Bridgeport, Gloucester County; a seafood processing plant in Egg Harbor; and a cooked-foods plant in Puerto Rico, Gauger said. The South Jersey plants employ about 300.