A Conversation with Front-end Manager Asher Cohn

He’s probably the first Gourmet Glatt staffer you see when entering the store and the last you see when leaving. And if you are like most shoppers, you probably ask for his assistance at least once during the time in between. Meet front-end manager Asher (aka Ash) Cohn, whose dedication to the job is responsible for keeping our customer service levels high and your shopping stress levels low.

Market to Table: What exactly is a front-end manager?

Ash Cohn: A front-end manager takes care of the day-to-day business out on the store floor, working with customers and overseeing the employees who interact with them. A back-end manager, on the other hand, is basically involved with stock and behind-the-scenes operations. 
 

MTT: “Day-to-day business” covers a lot of ground, especially in a store as busy as Gourmet Glatt. Can you be a little more specific about what your duties entail?

Ash: My responsibilities go from A-Z on any given day. Customer service – everything from helping a shopper find an item on the shelf, to arranging for shipping groceries and ready-to-eat meals to a vacation spot, to resolving whatever personal issues a customer may have – is definitely the biggest part of my job.

But it doesn’t end there. Making sure that the check-out process runs smoothly, especially on our busiest days, is another important aspect of what I do. And with over 40 cashiers and baggers manning the check-out counters, things don’t always go exactly as planned. A register malfunctioning during peak hours, for example, can really throw things off. Needless to say I‘ve been called on to fix more than my fair share of those.

And even though I’m not the store buyer, I always keep an eye out for exciting new products for our customers.
 

MTT: So it’s safe to say there is no typical day on the job for a front-end manager?

Ash: Well most days start out the same. The first thing I do when I come in the morning – I’m generally in by 8am – is survey the floor and make sure everything looks up to par in terms of cleanliness and orderliness. We want shoppers to feel they are walking into someplace really special every time they come into our store. Then I turn on my computer and take care of technical business.

After that, each day pretty much brings what it brings. A Monday is obviously going to be very different from a Friday, a regular weekday from an erev Yom Tov. If it’s busy enough, you may even see me working a register.
 

MTT: You are pretty young to hold a managerial position. Did you have much experience in the grocery industry before coming to work here?

Ash: My family has actually been in the food business for many years.  My grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, started a wholesale confections company in Borough Park after the war, and my father continued the business after he passed away. I worked there for some time as well, doing a little bit of everything – purchasing, finding new products, dealing with distributors and making connections with past and future clients. So while this is my first position in a grocery store environment, I came into it with a pretty good idea of what a job in the food supply industry would require.
 
MTT: What qualifications do you think are most important for a front-end manager?

Ash: Well for one thing, the job definitely requires a lot of physical endurance. According to my Fitbit, I take about 10 thousand steps a day. The whole floor is my office and that’s pretty great.

But even more importantly, a front-end manager needs good communication skills and the ability to keep cool no matter how crazy things get in the store. Customers need to know they always have someone to talk to if they have a problem or a special request; that’s how trust is established and relationships are built. And I think building relationships is key to the success of any store.

Finally, I think a good front-end manager has to be willing to go the extra mile. Because one thing this job has taught me is that you just never know what you might be called on to do.
 

MTT: What’s the most unusual task you’ve performed in recent weeks?

Ash: A short while ago, a customer asked us to deep freeze a large meat order that was being shipped halfway across the world.>But I could see that the customer was still very nervous about the meat defrosting. So early on the morning that the order was supposed to ship, I drove to a place in Springfield Gardens, Queens that sells dry ice. I loaded about six pounds of it into their box of frozen meat and sent it off via FedEx. When the order arrived, everything was still frozen solid.

The customer must have sent half a dozen texts thanking me. But the truth is I never gave it a second thought.

After all, we’re Gourmet Glatt. It’s what we do.
 


Ash’s Product Picks


From our grocery department:

Brooklyn Diamond Cold Brew Coffee This New Orleans-style cold brew coffee concentrate – twice the coffee for half the price! – is exactly what cold coffee fans like me have been waiting for. This delicious parve beverage can be enjoyed straight (just add water), with milk or milk alternatives, sweetened or unsweetened

Kinder Chocolate Sticks Imported from Israel, these mouthwatering chocolates are only available a few months of the year. They’re so incredibly delicious, they’re out of here just as quickly as they come in!

Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food Fudge “fish” pieces swimming in chocolate ice cream shot through with gooey marshmallow and caramel swirls – what’s not to love? In my opinion, this is one of the best ice creams you can buy outside of an ice cream parlor. Not cholov Yisroel.

From our meat department:
Frenched Cowboy Steak To bring out the amazing flavor and succulence of this fantastic cut, marinate overnight and then slowly grill or broil. For more cooking tips, speak to Rabbi Berel or Rabbi Yehoshua.

From our produce department:

PoMango Tidbits The colorful combo of mango and pomegranate seeds is amazingly refreshing and delicious. And because our produce department makes a new batch every day, you can be sure that the fruit in your container is always super fresh.