Five Star Acquires Canteen’s 3rd Largest Franchise, Expanding into KY, IN and OH

Jan. 5, 2021

Canteen’s largest franchise, Five Star Food Service, announced the acquisition of an Owensboro, KY-based franchise group comprised of four operating companies, including a coffee roaster and distributor. Canteen Service Co. of Owensboro, Canteen Service Co. of Kentuckiana, Derringer Food Group and John Conti Coffee Co. -- operating collectively as Canteen’s third largest franchise -- have joined Five Star through this transformative deal. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Five Star president and chief executive Richard Kennedy said, “What excites me the most about this event is that I believe we are combining two very similar organizations. Similar in values, similar in culture and similar in our passion to service our customers. Our two companies have a history of collaborating on best practices, working through challenging situations and making new introductions. We already have a history of making each other better.”

The acquisition expands the company’s reach into western Ohio, southern Indiana and a majority of Kentucky providing service to clients in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus (Indiana), Louisville, Lexington and Owensboro, among other regions. With this acquisition, Five Star has increased its operating assets to 2,300 micro markets, more than 30,000 vending machines, 15,000 coffee and water service locations, and over 60 cafeterias. The addition of John Conti Coffee Co., an iconic craft coffee roaster, specialty tea and water producer, adds a new service outlet and growth platform to the Five Star organization.

The transaction is significant to the local community in Owensboro, KY, Five Star said. The former minority ownership group, along with Five Star executives today, cemented the legacy of the late and much-beloved former majority owner and community legend, Jack Wells, with the formation of The Jack T. Wells Charitable Trust; this was a wish of his upon his passing with benefit from the sale of his businesses. The trust will provide for those in need, specifically children, in the Owensboro community for decades to come. The group, as well as Five Star’s nonprofit foundation Feeding the Future, made generous founding contributions to the trust.

“We feel deeply blessed with this opportunity to combine our two companies into an even better organization,” Kennedy said. 

Five Star Food Service, headquartered in Chattanooga, TN, and founded in 1993, is the South’s premier away-from-home food and beverage retail solutions provider for employers and other commercial, institutional, and educational locations. Five Star is an industry leader in micro markets, full-line vending, pantry, coffee and water services, full-service dining, catering and sustainable products serving Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina. Five Star has grown to one of the largest privately held convenience services operations in the U.S. and is the largest franchise of Canteen, a Compass Group company.


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