Owner of the largest food service company in USA

Owner of the largest food service company in USA

John Payiavlas is the founder and owner of the largest independently owned and operated food service company in the United States, the “AVI FoodSystems Inc”.

Payiavlas is a son of immigrants. It all began when he and his family, trying to live the American dream, opened a small diner in Warren, Ohio with the name “Village Café”. An acquaintance presented an opportunity to purchase a few vending machines which was an opportunity Payiavlas quickly seized.

Payiavlas had one principal. He insisted on creating fresh food from scratch in his own kitchens for the vending machines he serviced. Payiavlas knew there were no shortcuts to success and worked day and night to accommodate his clients and their needs, sometimes even before they even ask.

The company in the mid ‘80s entered new geographic markets as it also added business dining and catering services. Colleges and universities, healthcare facilities were among the first clients and now Payiavlas company serves some of the most widely known and recognized businesses, universities, healthcare and leisure facilities in the world.

In 1997 AVI’s Culinary Support Center is able to produce 100,000 units of production in one day and invested in PocketSwab technology to ensure the highest food sanitation standards are upheld.

John Payiavlas in 2000 was inducted to Inside Business Hall of Fame.

In 2001, Payiavlas children, Patsy and Anthony, became co-presidents of “AVI Food Systems”. They both have grown into the company as from a very young age started by sweeping the floors, preparing sandwiches and assisting their father in the office. They learned firsthand that success begins with integrity and ends with accountability.

John Payiavlas passed the leadership of the company to his two children in 2008 but still remains Chairman of the Board.

Payiavlas served as Chairman of “Leadership 100” from 2004 to 2006. He is also an Archon Depoutatos of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the highest honor in all Christendom, dating back to the fourth century, as well as a member of AHEPA and other community and business organizations.


  Comments: 21

  1. Marie Economus

    The Payiavlas family without exception are the most generous, caring people in the world.

    • Shawn Pompelia

      The City of Warren, Ohio is lucky to have the family in our community. Very generous family!

    • Steve Lewis

      This article only scratches the surface as to John’s contributions, character, and humility. He has shunned the spotlight while not only building an amazing organization but supporting and enriching his hometown.

  2. Enzo Cantalamessa

    The Family is a true pillar of our business and philanthropic community. On behalf of the City of Warren, the recognition of John and his family is well deserved and a continuing source of pride for our City.

  3. grew up in warren ohio and watched them grow. what a great company.
    and hewing to the basics made them successful!!

  4. Missy Elder

    Wonderful family,and hard workers. Very involved in children school life,and always helping. Great roll models to those that are around them ..

  5. Anna Nikolaides

    It is an incredible accomplishment that was achieved from the ground up. He is living proof that the Ameican dream is possible with hard work and integrity. The entire Payiavlas family are down to earth, kind, caring generous people! Congratulations to all the family for their incredible achievement!

  6. Mr.Payiavlas is a dying breed of businessmen. Truely a salt of the earth individual.

  7. Haven’t been back in years. What happened to John Kouvas ? I know he ran Avalon golf course , but that’s the last I heard of him ?

  8. Debbie VanWinkle

    Had the pleasure of meeting this family about six years ago. They are so kind and generous. They are the true picture of “proud to be from Warren” ! So happy for their success. They work hard and deserve it!

  9. Filly Kotsatos

    Avi foods was an institution!
    The new comers all started working in the Commisary!
    I worked for them on summer breaks from school and it was a lot of fun listening to the wonderful woman that worked there talk about everything!
    Jokes, recipes for Baklava, how the Hios friends made koulourakia and paksimadia, home made sesame candies from the Rhodian friends for my wedding in 1982! Loved every day even if we worked long hours on the food line making delicious sandwiches❤️❤️❤️

  10. Mary. Maris

    I grew up with all the family, great Family, proud to have them in Warren

  11. My mother’s family is Payiavlas from the island Chios Greece.
    For sure we are related. Lol ..
    I would need to look this guy’s history. All the great work about his kinds and morality seems to be on target. All the family on my mother’s side were exactly like this, kind and we’re hard working…. Me too! Lol

  12. Franklin Manios

    Great story/…..and aLL TRUE……the American Dream was personified.in John Payiavlas, life…….Made every one he touched BETTER…..Congratulations John,…..we are all proud of you…….

  13. Pam Politsky

    He’s a good man. I have much respect for him. He has built a great business from the ground up.

  14. Jonathan wike

    Proud to know this wonderful family and very proud of all they do for our community

  15. Mark A. Herron

    Mr. Payiavalas is one of the finest compassionate gentlemen that I have ever met in my life. He has been a blessing to the City of Warren and to me and my entire family. God blesss and keep John Payiavalas for his many anonymous act’s of kindness. Blessings.

  16. Lorelei (Taylor) Milligan

    Thank for all the hard work and dedication to excellence Mr. Payiavlas! I went to school with your daughter, Patsy. With all the hard work you put in, you also raised a very nice family and you, your family and your company are an asset to our community!

  17. Dorothy Ross Hamer

    John was a staunch supporter of the Warren YMCA when my father Joe Ross was working there. They were good friends and I remember their friendship as a very special bond.

  18. When John was involved in the day to day operation the company was successful and had integrity. The product was exceptional and John went out of his way to take care of the employees.
    When Patsey and Anthony began to run their areas of the business vending no longer had integrity.
    Periodic phone calls with Patsey were bordering on hysterical and verbally abusive. Issues that needed to be addressed were often blamed on the employee and emotions surpassed good business.
    What started as the perfect company to work for turned into a high stress degrading work place.
    This is only my opinion from the side lines.