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FISHER FOODS, INC.

FISHER FOODS, INC. was one of Cleveland's major food retailers. It began as the Fisher Bros. Co. in Feb. 1907 when 3 New York grocers, Manning F. and Chas. Fisher and Joseph Salmon, opened a grocery store at W. 47th St. and Lorain Ave. The company was incorporated in 1908.

With 48 stores around the city by 1916, Fisher Bros. built a new warehouse and bakery at 2323 Lakeside Ave. and introduced the cash-and-carry system, which lowered prices and increased the company's business. In 1928 the chain had $18 million in sales from its 323 stores across northern Ohio. In 1937 Fisher Bros. opened its first self-service "master market." The name was changed to Fisher Foods, Inc., in 1961 to reflect changes in its operation. Until the 1960s, Fisher was the largest retail food distributor in Cleveland, but its sales then began to fall along with its share of the market. In 1965 Fisher Foods was acquired by a group of local grocery executives consisting of Carl and John Fazio, Sam Costa, and Julius (Julie) Kravitz.

Within a year the new owners had turned the company around under the Fazio store name. In 1968 the company moved its headquarters to BEDFORD HTS. and pursued an aggressive acquisition program, purchasing gorcery stores in the Midwest and California and becoming the second-fastest-growing supermarket chain in the country. By the mid-1970s this diversification led to a deterioration of its supermarket business in Cleveland, leading Kravitz and Costa to leave the company. The Fazios instigated a "price war" in 1977 to regain some of Fisher's Cleveland market from Pick-N-Pay (see FIRST NATL. SUPERMARKETS, INC.) and Stop-N-Shop. A consequence was that all 3 firms were charged with price fixing in 1982 and forced to make restitution to area customers. In 1984 the American Financial Corp. of Cincinnati took control of the firm from the Fazio family. Three years later a combination of American Seaway (see SEAWAY FOODS) and the Rini-Rego Stop-N-Shop chain purchased 44% of Fisher Foods, after which the Fazio's stores were either closed or merged into Rini-Rego's.