Building A Chain At Food King

August 05, 1994|By Jay Hancock | Jay Hancock,Sun Staff Writer

Food King, a small chain of Baltimore supermarkets started four years ago by two area grocery veterans, increased its size by half with the recent purchase of two stores from Super Rite Corp. and intends to keep growing.

Food King bought Super Rite's Basics stores, at 5315 York Road and 5700 Wabash Ave., both in Baltimore. Terms weren't disclosed.

The company now owns six supermarkets, all in the city. Together, the stores will produce about $65 million in annual sales, said Bernard Meizlish, Food King's president.

That's enough to tie it with Weis Markets as the No. 8 grocery chain in the Baltimore region, according to Food World, a monthly trade newspaper. Farm Fresh, with $112 million in annual sales, is No. 7.

Plus, "there's a couple things we're looking at" in the way of future acquisitions, Mr. Meizlish said. He declined to specify stores.

As part of the Basics deal, Food King agreed to switch its wholesale buying to Harrisburg-based Super Rite, which operates both retail and distribution businesses, said Bill Schantzenbach, Super Rite's chief financial officer. Food King had been buying from Richmond, Va.-based Richfood Inc.

Mr. Meizlish, 57, and Food King Chairman Herbert Beckenheimer, 71, are longtime associates and old Baltimore grocery hands. They built Brown's Supermarkets, later known as Big B, into one of the city's biggest grocery chains before selling it to B. Green & Co., a Maryland-based wholesaler, in 1986.

Mr. Beckenheimer retired and Mr. Meizlish stayed on as general manager until late 1989, when B. Green sold part of its interest in the retailer to Farm Fresh. In 1990, the two started Food King with a store on Reisterstown Road.

L They said they'll continue to build their chain in the city.

"That's always been where we've operated, and we've been successful there," said Mr. Meizlish.

As a smaller operation, Food King can more easily tailor stores to neighborhoods than bigger competitors such as Giant, he added.

Super Rite, which operates eight Metro Food Markets and eight Basics stores in the Baltimore region, now has just one supermarket in the city, a Basics on Fort Avenue.

The York Road store that it sold to Food King has 37,000 square feet of space; the Wabash Avenue store, 47,000 square feet.

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