Welcome to St Johns Food Service, Inc.
The company was founded in 1949 by Dr Ronald F. Jackson, a local respected veterinarian. It was originally incorporated as St Johns Frozen Foods. Dr. Jackson started the company by renting frozen locker space to local restaurants. As he saw the need for food service products, he began adding product lines and selling them to restaurants in and around the St Augustine, Florida area. St Augustine, known as the Nation’s Oldest City, then and today was a popular destination for tourists. The city is rich in history and has many fine local independent restaurants.
As the company grew, Dr. Jackson added employees. One of those employees added in 1963 was Melvin McQuaig, the current owner. Melvin had a background of working in the food business in a retail grocery store. He started working in the warehouse, making deliveries, and later became a salesman for the company. Dr. Jackson was still a practicing veterinarian and turned over day-to-day operations to Melvin, making him a partner in the business.
In 1969 Melvin hired his brother Steven A McQuaig to help him grow the St Johns Frozen Food business. Much the same as Melvin had earlier, Steven worked his way through the business working in the warehouse, making deliveries, running a sales route, as a buyer, and he was general manager for a short time.
In 1980, the company had grown to the level that it needed a full-time buyer, hiring Bonnie Andreu. Prior to that time, Melvin acted as buyer among the other hats he wore during the work day. Bonnie worked her way through the company, and as is the case in all small businesses, she was called upon to do many things. In addition to buying, Bonnie also performed accounting duties, customer service, and spent time in the field selling customers.
Also in 1980, Dr. Jackson brought his son-in-law B. J. Romaine into the business. For a short time B. J. worked in the warehouse and made deliveries. He quickly moved into calling on customers as a field salesman for St Johns Frozen Foods. In March 2008 B. J. loss a short battle with cancer. Many of B. J.’s first customers from the 1980's still buy from the company today.
In 1994, Dr. Jackson, still a practicing veterinarian, agreed to sell St Johns Frozen Foods to Melvin McQuaig, his general manager. Financing an outright purchase would have been a financial burden to Melvin. With the help of his CPA and a local bank, Dr. Jackson and Melvin structured an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) for Dr. Jackson’s 51% of the business as a way to finance the sale of the business. That ownership structure remained in place until 2005 when Melvin liquidated the ESOP and became owner of 100% of the company stock. In early 2010, Dr. Ronald F. Jackson passed away after a brief illness. He was 91 years old.
Formerly St Johns Frozen Foods, the company was renamed St Johns Food Service in 1985 to better describe the full line of food supplies distributed to customers. From those humble beginnings, the company grew to a peak of over 30 employees servicing close to 500 accounts within a 75 mile radius of St Augustine. The company operates from a modestly sized 15,000 square foot multi-temperature warehouse. A complete broad line of approximately 3,000 restaurant food and paper products are stocked for immediate shipment, including dry grocery, a complete line of frozen foods, dairy, and produce. Many thousands more items are available with a few days advance notice for its customers. Special order products are no problem to source for customers, one case at a time.
St Johns Food Service is known for its customer service. The minimum order quantity is well below competition and order windows are 7:00 AM cutoff for same morning local delivery and 11:30 AM cutoff for same afternoon local delivery. These factors are important to the restaurants in St Augustine who are mostly located in quaint small historic buildings, or who are subject to getting hit with bus loads of tourists at any time during the day. St Johns Food Service is there to get them back in business as soon as possible. With a small radius of business, the company also has a large number of customers who pick up product at the warehouse between regularly scheduled delivery days.
All of the company’s delivery trucks are refrigerated. There are 11 straight trucks in the fleet varying in size from 10 foot to 18 foot refrigerated box units. The small fleet helps control operating costs, and are a necessity when navigating the narrow streets of St Augustine, the "nation's oldest city".
The company is a member of the Golbon marketing group headquartered in Boise, ID. Melvin McQuaig was one of the first original members of this independent member food service buying group, recognizing early on that he needed the power of a buying group to be able to offer competitive prices to his customers. He joined Golbon in 1984 and is still active today in this group of over 180 independent food distributors.
As the company grew and salesmen were added, Melvin recognized the need for a computer system. In the early 1980’s he contracted with Distribution Management Systems, a specialized food only software company headquartered in Connecticut. St Johns Food Service was an early adopter for this company’s Microsoft Windows based software. Salesmen are equipped with HP Laptops and are able to provide customers specific product details instantly, including current inventory, ETA for purchases, and pricing.
Contact us today to explore how we can be of service to your foodservice operation.
"Dedicated to providing the highest quality food products and service while achieving superior customer satisfaction. We employ the highest standards of integrity when dealing with our customers, suppliers, and employees."
Shelby Report Articles
Celebrating 65 Successful Years
The company celebrated 60 years in business in 2009, one of the toughest years in its history. Click the Thank You above to read an open letter to our Customers, Suppliers, and Employees who helped us through this time.