STOUFFER FOODS is a Cleveland-based corporation whose operations include a nationwide chain of restaurants, motor inns, frozen prepared foods, and food-service management. Stouffer's began in 1922 as a stand-up milk counter in the ARCADE, owned and operated by ABRAHAM E. AND LENA M. (BIGELOW) STOUFFER. Lena's homemade apple pie is given credit for the company's instant success. Stouffer's sons, VERNON and Gordon, joined the business in the mid-1920s and opened the first Stouffer restaurant—a sandwich shop—in the Schofield Bldg.
In 1931 the restaurant and company headquarters moved to the Citizens Bldg. and additional restaurants were opened in Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. Known for serving high-quality food and drink at affordable prices in pleasant surroundings, the restaurant's success was due primarily to efficient operation, with expert food preparation in the most modern kitchen facilities. After A. E. Stouffer died in 1936, Vernon and Gordon operated the business.
By the mid-1950s the company had grown into a nationwide industry. In addition to the restaurant chain's expansion, Stouffer's was selling partially cooked, take-home meals that reduced meal preparation to 30 minutes. In 1953 this led to Stouffer's production of frozen foods at a plant on Woodland Ave. By 1956 its frozen food products were distributed throughout the East and West coasts. In 1966 this operation was moved to SOLON. In 1967 Stouffer Foods merged with Litton Industries, a California-based conglomerate whose Atherton Division supplied microwave ovens for commercial food service. Litton was then sold to Nestle S.A., the Swiss-based food-processing giant, in 1980.
See also RENAISSANCE CLEVELAND HOTEL.