Cedar Farms Co., Inc., was founded in the early 1920s by Bob Raur and Stanley Bonner. Originally a butter, eggs, and cheese distributor, the first Cedar Farms location stood on Water Street in Philadelphia. A sterling reputation of excellent quality and service led to a strong growth in sales with restaurants in the Philadelphia and South Jersey region. This growth demanded large quarters, and a few years late, the company moved to a new location on Cadwallader Street.
In 1949, Gus Pahides started his own business as a food distributor. His company continued to grow until he was pressed into service for our country during the Korean Conflict. Returning in 1953, Gus was forced to start over. From 1953 to 1970, he built his business concentrating on restaurants and diners, just as Cedar Farms was doing.
In 1969, Bob Raur and Stanley Bonner decided to retire. Through a mutual friend and vendor, they contacted Gus Pahides to see if he was interested in acquiring Cedar Farms. He agreed. The deal was finalized by August 1970. Starting with five trucks, 1,000 square feet of warehouse, and a dozen products, the company began to grow and develop. With a goal of introducing one new product a week to his customers, he hired his first salesman, Bob Giafes.
In 1976, Pete Pahides (Gus’s son) became involved with the warehouse operations. When Gus became ill in 1977, Pete assumed full responsibilities for all of Cedar Farms’ operations. By 1980, the company has far outgrown their facility, and another relocation was needed. Cedar Farms moved to a 18,000 square foot building on York Street.
November 1986 brought a vertical integration move as Gus and Pete purchased Liberty Bell Steak Company. Because Cedar Farms had been using 95% of the Philadelphia Cheese Steak Sandwich production, they felt that this acquisition fell in line with the company’s values of consistent supply and high levels of product quality. John Vellios (Gus’s son in-law) was installed as the General Manager.
Sensing a need for greater involvement in the food distribution arena, Pete and Gus decided in February 1995 to associate themselves with the All Kitchens buying group. All Kitchens was a national association of food service distributors. This association brought the knowledge and experience of all members to the operations of Cedar Farms. By joining this organization, Cedar Farms become an integral part of a nation-wide network of distribution. Cedar Farms was awarded the distinction of “Rookie of the Year” in January 1996 for their quick start and stellar growth within the group. During the All Kitchens years, the company was awarded the “Above & Beyond” award, as well as the “Distributor Of The Year” in 2004 and 2007.
By 2001, the company had once again outgrown the York Street warehouse, so a brand new 90,000+ square foot warehouse was purchased in Northeast Philadelphia. This move was made alongside the largest product line increase to date in Cedar Farms history. A tremendous inventory of paper goods and other non-foods was added to the existing product line, fueling a new area of dynamic growth. This expansion played an integral role in increasing sales from the $50-million range to over $90 million in 2007.