SEAWAY FOODS, INC., is a major wholesaler of food and grocery products in northern Ohio. A consolidation of 4 Cleveland wholesale grocery companies, it was formed on 6 Jan. 1956 as the Seaway Wholesale Co. by the Eagle Wholesale Grocery Co., the J. F. Sansons & Son Co., the Economy Cash & Carry Co., and the David Lombardy Co. (1928). They continued to operate individually until 17 Aug. 1957, when Seaway opened its $1.5 million warehouse and headquarters at 22801 Aurora Rd., BEDFORD HTS. At that time, it was the largest wholesale grocer in Ohio.
Seaway originally distributed dry groceries to independent grocers in the area. In 1958 it established a group of independent retail stores, known as Food-Way-Market. Five years later, the firm formed a new voluntary group of supermarkets, called Pic-Rite Markets. Seaway provided independent grocers with aid in arranging finances and equipment for new stores, and for capital improvement programs and acquisitions. It also provided office space in its headquarters. By 1959 the firm had more than 1,600 customers in northern Ohio, including 6 voluntary grocery groups. In 1961 its name was changed to Seaway Foods, Inc., to reflect the introduction of its own line of private-label products. Through acquisitions in the late 1960s, Seaway broadened its wholesale services to institutional customers and operated retail and convenience stores in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
By 1981 the company had reached $300 million in sales, with 650 employees and 13,000 items in stock. Seaway then consolidated with Rini-Rego Supermarkets in June 1988 to form Riser Foods, a publicly owned company. Seaway operates as a division of Riser Foods with offices at 5800 Grant Ave. and a warehouse at 5300 Richmond Rd. The former Seaway warehouse in Bedford Hts. was subsequently occupied by Sysco Foods (1992).