I founded Cristina Foods, Inc. in 1989. Using the tools I acquired as the market buyer and food and beverage director for our family’s Mexican restaurant chain. La Margarita, I put that experience to use in starting my own food distribution company. I bought a used box truck, and my garage was the “bodega” (warehouse). I went door-to-door to solicit business from restaurants and fast-food stands, building up a distribution route. I would begin each day at the old South Water Market produce terminal, loading my truck at 3 am, finishing the route around 4 pm. After almost a year, there was enough business to allow the company to move into a modest, 2,500 square foot warehouse in Chicago’s South Loop.
As we continued to build a solid base, in 1990, I decided to apply to become certified as an MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) with the City of Chicago. Once certified, we began bidding for city school and county business. During the next 20-plus years, the company continued to grow, reaching every type of foodservice end-user. More certifications and relocations would follow.
We had steady growth which would see us move three more times. Then finally, in July, 2011, the company settled into what is currently the only, LEED Certified-Platinum, food distribution facility in the country. Located in the heart of Chicago’s Back-of-the-Yards neighborhood at the south end of the old Stockyards, Cristina Foods is also the only Minority Business Enterprise in the United States with this unique distinction.
It is a distinction we are very proud of, but take very seriously… Sustainability had already been an objective of ours since 2007, as evidenced by the large network of local and family-owned farms we work with.
The company continues to build these relationships, seeking out such farms with capacity and good handling practices. Together with the new facility, Cristina Foods is poised to be a leader in sustainability for many years to come.
I want to personally welcome you to our website, where you can learn more about our company profile, our capabilities, and the many sustainable features of our facility. We hope you will find the reading interesting, and encourage you to schedule a tour of our facility very soon!
Cesar Dovalina, Jr.