Company History - Watkins Poultry

There has always been a need for fresh, delicious, affordable, healthy food in New York, and the family behind Watkins Poultry Merchants has been meeting that need for decades.

Watkins Poultry Merchants of New York began over thirty years ago as a simple father-son operation. Jake “Pappy” Helfrich and young Jake Junior were selling the chickens from their farm in Pennsylvania to a few live poultry markets that existed in New York City. In 1982, when Jake Junior left for the NAVY, Pappy and his wife “Nee Nee” decided it was time to take his little business to the next level. They bought an old, run-down live poultry market on Watkins Street in Brooklyn and brought back to life what could have been a failing store and kept a culinary tradition alive in the community.

Not long after the establishment  of “Watkins Poultry Market”,  Jake came home and supported the store and his family by continuing his trips back and forth between the farms and the City. In no time at all, both old and new poultry markets were calling Jake and his brother-in-law Matt Gross, who just came home from the ARMY, to deliver them the best poultry they could find in their native Pennsylvania farm country. As orders grew and more live markets were opening in the City than ever before, Jake and Matt realized that their true mission was Bringing the Farm to the City.

While still operating out of Pappy’s poultry market Watkins Street, Jake and Matt formed Watkins Poultry Merchants of New York in 1994. They worked tirelessly for years, making a name for themselves as the go-to guys in the industry. Their work paid off in 2001, when they were finally able to build the Watkins Poultry Merchants hub in the East New York Industrial Park, where they could expand and improve their operations even more.

Over 10 years later operations are still expanding and improving with the help of some new family-business editions: Jake Jr., Ben, Jeff, Holly and Lauren, the sons and daughters of Jake and Matt and the grandchildren of Pappy and Nee Nee. Today, all three generations are working together to maintain the integrity of Watkins Poultry Merchants of New York by finding ways to bring freshness, health, and affordability to New York City and its surrounding neighbors.

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