Preferred Meal Systems food prep site for sale
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
Preferred Meal Systems is selling the former Food Service Professionals facility, 5150 N. Northwest Hwy., because the building was not being fully utilized to prepare and deliver meals to Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago after it purchased the site last year.
Preferred Meals Systems spokesman Ken Trantowski said that the company purchased the site after the archdiocese announced that it would be more efficient and cheaper to prepare and deliver meals through a third-party food provider instead of through the Northwest Side facility, which it operated. The archdiocese solicited bids to outsource its meal services to schools and also proposals from companies seeking to purchase the facility.
Bidders for the site were required to demonstrate compliance with minimum standards for financial stability, experience, menu design and other criteria.
Trantowski said that there have been no bidders yet for the site and that the company has more capacity than it needs.
"At the beginning we purchased it because we thought it would be fully utilized, but that just wasn’t the case," Trantowski said. "We will look and see what the best option we have when it comes to the sale, but I don’t expect anything to happen until the new year."
The archdiocese reportedly still has office space in the building for its food delivery operations.
Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Burritt said that the company did not contact the archdiocese about its intent to sell the property. Burritt said that she does not know if the archdiocese would continue to use the company for its meal services but that it still has a contract with the company that will expire next year.
"We had not been informed about the sale, and we can’t really speculate about what will happen next year," Burritt said.
The companies which originally bid for the services are food vendors for the Chicago Public Schools.
The archdiocese has provided food services to schools for more than 40 years. The meals have been prepared at and delivered from the food facility on Northwest Highway since 1983, according to the archdiocese.
According to the Preferred Meal Systems Web site, the Berkley-based company has been in the food service business since 1967, and it provides meals to schools nationwide.
Food Service Professionals has served Catholic schools since 1970, and it had been serving 34 high schools and 300 elementary schools. The agency purchased more than $18 million worth of food in bulk each year.
The agency prepared 75,000 meals a day and had 40 refrigerated trucks that delivered the meals, which are heated at the schools.
Also on the block, Orion Industries, which manufactures coatings for medical supplies, is moving from 5170 N. Northwest Hwy. to a warehouse at 5480 N. Northwest Hwy. The facility was built in 1972, and it is being sold for $1,895,000.
Orion had planned to seek to have a stub of Austin between Northwest Highway and the Metra train station vacated in order to facilitate deliveries to the plant. That stretch of Austin is about an eighth of a block long.
The city would maintain easement rights to allow maintenance of the billboard, and commuters would have access to the train station, but public parking on that section of Austin would be eliminated. That stretch of Austin is used by commuters who park there.