The Food-A-Rama Story

1947

After World War II, the main characters in Food-A-Rama arrived in the US. Paul and Sonia Diamond, and Ben and Devorah Schuster arrived on April Fools Day. They proved to be no fools in America, and built a corner grocery into a major regional supermarket chain.

The Diamonds and Schusters spent their first five weeks at the Baltimore home of relatives Henry and Jesse Turk, 2308 Eutaw Place. Cousins then set up separate apartments for them at 1833 Linden Avenue.

Ben and Devorah Schuster moved to Flatbush, New York. They lived in a "privileged kitchen" — apartment where a few tenants share one kitchen. Ben taught in a yeshiva for a half year. Devorah became pregnant and was unable to work.

Meanwhile, Paul worked in Washington, D.C. at his cousin's (Harry Zeitelman) restaurant across the street from the White House. Paul went to night school for a few months to learn English. He quit his restaurant job and went to work for another cousin, Nathan Zuriff.

The Zuriff store sold small items like socks and scarves, and paid Paul $35 per week. When Zuriff didn’t follow through with a $5 raise, Paul said he couldn’t continue working for peanuts and left. Sonia worked in a sewing factory making $18/week, but she became pregnant and got sick which forced her to stop working.

The Diamonds moved out of Linden Avenue and moved briefly to Baltimore Street & Eden Street. Cousin Nathan Zurrif owned the building. The living conditions were poor, so Paul and Sonia moved out after 1 month.

1948

Diamond and Schuster Family 1948 January 1st, Paul and Sonia Diamond bought their first store on 174 West Cross Street. For $4,000, they obtained an old, falling apart store, using loans from relatives secured with notes and $500 they had from gifts. (The helpful relatives included their Aunt Becky and Uncle Joe Savitz, the Turks, Sol Goldstein, the Alikers and the Roskeses.)

The Diamonds lived above the store until they sold it in 1949. Their first son, Abe Diamond, was born Friday night April 2, 1948 at 11:38 pm.

Meanwhile, Ben and Devorah returned to Baltimore. The uncles and aunts loaned them money to buy a corner grocery store on Druid Hill Avenue. They lived above the store for 5 years, with only a gas stove for heat. Their first child, Sylvia (Elhai), was born April 5, 1948.


1949

In March, Dave Diamond arrived in Baltimore from Europe.


1950

Diamond Market Paul and Sonia bought a store at Harlem Avenue & Mount Street and sold the old store on West Cross Street. Their second son, Marvin Diamond was born on October 31, 1950.

Ben and Devorah's second daughter, Berly (Hershkovitz), was born April 14, 1951.


1952

Ben and Paul bought Dave Diamond his first store.


1953

Ben and Devorah Schuster bought their store on Mount & Moser Avenue from the Kanter family.


1955

Dave sold his old store and bought a store on Fayette Street & Baltimore Street with a partner, Saul Sirok. After a while, Dave did not want to be in business without Paul and Ben.

Meanwhile, the families were all growing. Paul and Sonia's third son, Sidney Diamond, was born July 9, 1955. Ben and Devorah's son, Dr. Alvin Schuster, was born February 20, 1955. Dave Diamond married Ruth Trieger, and they moved to Oakford Avenue.


1957

4 kids Ben and Devorah's third daughter, Paula Schuster, was born July 9, 1957.

Paul and Sonia's daughter, Susie (Ben-David), was born December 11, 1957.

Paul and Ben bought a self-service grocery store together in Druid Hill.


1958

Paul and Sonia Diamond sold their Harlem Avenue Store.


1960

Diamond and Schuster Family Reunion Paul Diamond, Dave Diamond and Ben Schuster bought a full-size grocery store together at Liberty Road & Garrison Blvd. They named it FOOD-A-RAMA.


1970

5 Food-A-Rama supermarkets By 1970, Food-A-Rama owned and operated 5 supermarkets, with Paul, Dave and Ben at the helm.


1973

5 Food-A-Rama supermarkets The Universal Product Code (UPC) - the postage stamp sized symbol printed on packaged goods - was introduced. This changed the whole food retailing industry. Food-A-Rama kept growing.


1974

Food-A-Rama owned and operated 11 supermarkets in Baltimore City.


1975

Paul Diamond's eldest son, Abe, joined Food-A-Rama.


1976

Food-A-Rama Advertisement In February/March, Food-A-Rama, along with B.Green & Co., made its first large acquisition by purchasing 5 Big Value supermarkets from the Penn Fruit Company.

B.Green & Co Logo




1978

Warehouse Food Market In August, Food-A-Rama became the first local grocery chain to open a Warehouse Store in Baltimore. They were called Warehouse Food Markets, until later on when the name was changed to Cost Saver Warehouse Food Markets.


1979

Food-A-Rama 19 stores Food-A-Rama owned a total of 19 stores in the inner city and suburban counties.


1980

Food-A-Rama 6 warehouse stores Food-A-Rama had 6 warehouse stores.


1981

Warehouse Food Market In August, Food-A-Rama bought 11 Pantry Pride stores after Food Fair/Pantry Pride declared bankruptcy. The Pantry Pride stores were re-opened as Super Super high volume stores.
Pantry Pride In December, Food-A-Rama bought 3 more Pantry Pride stores.




1982

Food-A-Rama became the 2nd largest supermarket chain in the region, behind Giant Food.

18%

16%

 

8%

6%

5%

4%




1983

Food-A-Rama Distribution Center Food-A-Rama began to remodel some of the stores with improved technology. They were using B.Green & Co. and Super Rite Foods as the 2 main grocery wholesalers for all the stores.


1984

Food-A-Rama Distribution Center In March, Food-A-Rama bought 10 Basics Food Warehouse stores and 2 Grand Union stores in Washington, D.C. from the Food-A-Rama and B.Green & Co. were having informal talks about merging and going public.



Super Rite Foods Logo In December, Food-A-Rama signed an agreement to sell the 48 store chain to its main grocery supplier, Super Rite Foods. Wisely, the owners retained the real estate underlying the stores and sold only the retail business.




1985

Super Rite Foods Store January 9th, the Food-A-Rama/Super Rite deal was completed. Worth noting is that later, Super Rite was acquired by Richfood Holdings (Richfood Timeline), Richfood also bought Food-A-Rama’s other major wholesaler - B.Green & Co.

1985 Annual Report  1985 Annual Report (PDF)


1988

Paul and Sonia Diamond Paul Diamond met with the future owners of Seven Mile Market in Baltimore, MD. The owners requested to meet with Paul, for advice on opening the country's largest kosher supermarket.


2003

Ben Schuster November 4th, Ben Schuster was inducted into the Maryland Food Industry Hall of Fame at an awards presentation.


2010

November 4th, Paul Diamond was inducted (posthumously) into the Maryland Food Industry Hall of Fame at an awards presentation. His wife Sonia Diamond and grandson Jeremy Diamond accepted the honor at an awards presentation. Jeremy remains active in both the food and real estate industries where Food-A-Rama had been active.

Sonia Diamond    Jeremy Diamond



* 1937 An Oklahoma supermarket owner (Sylvan Goldman) invented the shopping cart.



Paul Diamond
1921-1993

Dave Diamond
1924-1989

Ben Schuster
1920-2006

Food World Magazine, Supermarket News, Progressive Grocer Magazine, Food Marketing Institute, Supervalu Inc. - Eastern Region, The Diamond Family, The Schuster Family, Roy Marks, Leonard Jaslow, Al Rosenstadt, Ruth Sommer, Jerry Esterson

E-mail any additional information or suggestions to Jeremy Diamond




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