Honor Foods plans to hire another 100 people, doubling its staff over the next several years, after the frozen and dairy foods distributor moves Monday to a newly built complex at 5505 Tacony St. in the former Frankford Arsenal in Bridesburg

It is leaving its headquarters and warehouse at Germantown and Montgomery Avenues in North Philadelphia.

“We simply ran out of space” at the old place, Honor president Walt Tullis told me.

He considered several sites in South Jersey, before then-city Commerce Director Harold Epps, City Councilman Mark Squilla, and PIDC’s Tom Dalfo helped sell Tullis’ team on the Arsenal, in a building next to cold-cuts maker Dietz & Watson.

The site, abandoned by the military in 1977, needed a lot of work, but it was “the closest and least disruptive” for customers and workers, just off two I-95 exits, and near two Jersey bridges, Tullis said.

Plus it came with state Keystone Opportunity Zone tax incentives and benefits, on condition that Honor expands as planned over the next five to 10 years.

To be sure, Honor’s restaurant and cafeteria customers “have been hard hit by COVID-driven dining closures and restrictions” in the last year, Tullis added. But he said Honor’s owner, Delaware-based Burris Logistics, is betting on a quick return to growth and profits after vaccination brings crowds back to bars, restaurants and stadiums.

Honor Foods is a middleman, buying food and drink from big manufacturers, and selling to nearly 800 food services in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

Its owner, Burris, is a major employer in southern Delaware, with distribution centers from Maine to Oklahoma. It’s now run by the fifth generation of the family that set up a pioneer East Coast food trucking and storage company in 1925.

Cold, and hot

Cold-brew coffee maker BKON has raised $3 million from beverages packer GoodWest Industries in Douglassville, Berks County, to quadruple production at its Moorestown factory, according to Dean Vastardis, BKON’s CEO, and cofounder with his brother Lou. (Their great-grandfather founded Philadelphia roaster Lacas Coffee Co., now in Pennsauken)

BKON uses proprietary processes, which it calls reverse atmospheric infusion (RAIN) and Storm, designed to extend coffee’s shelf life without refrigeration so it can be stored like soft drinks.

BKON says its business has grown rapidly this year, thanks to rising demands for 16 brands it manufactures, including Allegro Coffee for Amazon’s Whole Foods supermarkets.

The company has named Calvin H. Knowlton, chief executive of Moorestown-based Tabula Rasa HealthCare, as its new board chairman. GoodWest chairman Rick Lawlor has also joined as a director.

Mushrooming

South Mill Champs, the Kennett Square-based, private equity-backed company that’s been buying up mushroom growers, packers and marketers across North America, says it has purchased the Mushroom Co., in Cambridge, Md., for an undisclosed price.

The Mushroom Co. freezes, cans, blanches and roasts mushrooms and other vegetables for shipping to pizzerias, cafeterias and chain restaurants. President Dennis Newhard will run the business for South Mill Champs.

Lubert’s latest

LLR 6, the newest and largest investment fund raised by the Philadelphia partnership founded by Seth Lehr, Ira Lubert and Howard Ross, has made a timely first investment: in Dizzion, a Denver company that builds “managed desktops” for home workers.

“2021 presents unprecedented opportunity” with large and mid-sized companies “implementing long-term remote work solutions that address security, compliance ,” said Dizzion boss Steve Prather.

Founded in 2011, Dizzion “virtualized” work “long before the pandemic,” said LLR principal Michael Pantilione.

Lubert himself has a new high-profile project outside LLR: A former owner of the Valley Forge Casino, he has applied to build another gambling hall in a $120 million project near Penn State, according to the Daily Collegian.

The new casino, to be run by Bally’s, has been approved by state regulators for up to 750 slot machines and 30 table games, for a site near Unionville, about a 10-mile drive from the Penn State campus.

Ira Lubert, a Penn State grad, tells trustees at a remote board meeting Dec. 7 that he is stepping down from the board, where he has served several terms since 1997. A real estate developer who invests billions for Pennsylvania state pensions, he also leases properties to the university, and is heading an effort to build a casino near its Centre County campus.
Joseph N. DiStefano
Ira Lubert, a Penn State grad, tells trustees at a remote board meeting Dec. 7 that he is stepping down from the board, where he has served several terms since 1997. A real estate developer who invests billions for Pennsylvania state pensions, he also leases properties to the university, and is heading an effort to build a casino near its Centre County campus.

Lubert last month resigned from the Penn State board of trustees, where he had served on and off since 1997. “It’s time for someone else,” he told fellow trustees in a meeting last month, adding that he had supported term limits for trustees.

He told Penn State he planned to leave a year ago, Lubert told me. “The casino has nothing to do at all with retiring from PSU,” he added. “It would not be a conflict [of interest] anyway, if I had stayed on the board and owned [the] casino.” As a landlord to Penn State he has recused himself from trustee oversight of his leases.

Lubert’s tenure included a term as chairman in 2016, and he aided in the board’s response to NCAA sanctions in the scandal over convicted child abuser Jerry Sandusky and his handling by the late football coach Joe Paterno. President Eric Barron praised Lubert for helping boost fundraising and enrollment and backing Nittany Lion sports teams.