East & Middle Tennessee’s Leading Gourmet Food Distributor
It is our goal to provide customers with the highest quality products and the most reliable service. Founded in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1972, A&B has been supplying the food service industry for almost 40 years.
A&B is a family-owned & operated business that works to make your purchasing decisions easy & personable by offering the highest quality products at the most competitive prices.
A History of Specialty Food and Quality Food Service
After immigrating from Greece to West Virginia, George and Christine Pavlis moved to Knoxville Tennessee. their love of food led them to open a restaurant in downtown Knoxville, aptly named “The Bijou”. From the 1940’s to the 1960’s, George and Christine operated the restaurant, spending weeknights in an apartment above the restaurant and returning home to Fountain City on the weekends.
Bill Pavlis would become the second generation of restaurateurs opening “the 49er” in the Broadway Shopping Center in North Knoxville, and later a location in Oak Ridge. the 49er was a deli and sandwich shop with quality Kosher foods. Bill left the restaurant business to pursue a package store venture in 1962, as liquor by the bottle had just been approved in the city. A&P Liquor store (named for it’s owners Mr. Albert and Mr. Pavlis) would need to be renamed, however, after a certain grocery chain challenged the name, to A&B.
Outside of his businesses, Bill had become a family man. Married to Jamie, with four children (Bill, Nick, Tina, and Sam) who would grow up working in his businesses.
In 1972, Bill left the liquor business to open A&B Distributors. It was that year that the city passed a liquor by the drink ordinance. A&B was set to supply establishments with glassware and drink mixers. A&B spread from bar supplier to full restaurant supplier and began to specialize in quality gourmet food.
As his children became more involved in the business, Bill became more involved in his role as a public servant. he sat on the first Knox County Commission, a body he would eventually chair. Later he was appointed to the Knoxville City Council.
The 1980’s represented a time of growth for A&B. The 1982 World’s Fair captured the attention of Tennessean’s palates with foods from around the globe. Distribution expanded into Nashville and Chattanooga. We developed relationships with importers and producers such as American Roland, Atalanta Foods and Imported Cheese, Cento Pasta and Callebaut Chocolate. Imported and ethnic foods that had been a part of the family restaurant tradition became staples of A&B distributorship.
Growth and prosperity continued in the 1990’s. Our core business of owner/operators, country clubs and hotels were pioneering food trends and creating a demand for specialty food items. Vendors like Best’s Provisions, Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream, Conway Salad Dressings, Stanislaus Tomato Products, and Vie de France Breads and Desserts provided quality products to meet this demand. In the late 90’s we began introducing products from local manufactures. Alfresco Pasta, T.Ho Foods, and House of Thaller Salads represented the first Tennessee made items in our catalog.
With the new millennium, the slow food movement increased our client’s desire for local food. A&B not only continued to supply locally manufactured food products but began relationships with farmers and artisans across the state. these suppliers have grown to included Benton’s Country Hams, Sweetwater valley Farms, Cruze Farm Dairy, Sequatchie Cover Farm, Shelton Farms, Noble Springs Dairy, Muddy Pond Shorghum and Sugarplum Foods.
We are excited about the future of specialty food and will continue to adapt to the ever-changing trends and ideas that make East and Middle Tennessee a wonderful place for restaurateurs and consumers.