Owensboro’s Canteen Service Company Part of Major Acquisition

The Canteen Service Company of Owensboro has been acquired by Five Star Food Service.

The highly regarded Owensboro-based franchise group comprises four companies — Canteen Service Company of Owensboro, Canteen Service Company of Kentuckiana, Derringer Food Group, and John Conti Coffee Company — operating collectively as Canteen’s third largest franchise.

The Canteen/Derringer/John Conti sale comes nearly five months after the passing of former owner and senior partner Jack Wells, under whose leadership the company saw exponential growth over the last decade.

The acquisition expands the company’s reach into western Ohio, southern Indiana, and a majority of Kentucky with service in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Louisville, Lexington, and Owensboro, among other cities. Furthermore, the breadth of business that comes to Five Star pushes the company to nearly 2,300 micro markets, more than 30,000 vending machines, 15,000 coffee and water service locations, and over 60 cafeterias.

Wells purchased the Canteen franchise in 2010, adding the John Conti company in 2014. By early 2020, the number of team members had swelled to 770 (a 230% increase), and revenues increased by more than 370%.

The geographic service area also more than doubled in that time span — extending from the Kentucky/Tennessee border to 50 miles south of Lake Erie in Ohio, and from the West Virginia state line to the Land Between the Lakes region in Western Kentucky.

“Even with the meteoric growth as part of Jack’s vision for our organization, the remaining ownership/partner team realizes, however, there is still tremendous growth opportunity,” said Keith Sharber, Executive Vice President and Owner/Operator of the Owensboro-based group. “The Jack Wells partnership group firmly believes that a vibrant and successful organization must grow. It is with this thought first and foremost in our minds that we have determined that Five Star Food Service is best positioned to now come alongside our organization, take the reins with our incredible team of food service professionals and phenomenal customer base, and continue the onward and upward trajectory.”

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 eight states including Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, Indiana, and North Carolina. 

Founded in 1993, Five Star has grown to one of the largest privately held convenience services operators in the United States and is the largest franchise of Canteen, a Compass Group company.

Owensboro is thrilled to witness the two like-minded companies come together and welcome Five Star Food Service to the community!