Looking Back: The Keystone Company of San Jose
The Keystone Company traces its origins back to 1867, though it's a trail filled with acquisitions, divisions, name and ownership changes. The company began as a wholesale grocery firm founded by Conrad Renzel in 1885. Conrad's son Ernest Renzel Sr. took over operations in 1898, incorporating as Keystone Company in 1905. In 1915, Keystone absorbed a coffee and spice company that had been founded as Barrett, Caswell, & Hunt in 1867 (later known as Eagle Coffee & Spice Mills). By 1956, the company had three divisions; coffee, groceries, and food service equipment. In 1989, Keystone Company's divisions separated. Keystone Grocery was sold to BiRite Foods, and Keystone Coffee was sold to Tim Wright and currently operates at 2230 Will Wool Dr. in San Jose. Keystone Restaurant Supply continued operations on San Carlos Street until going out of business earlier this year.
Image: The Keystone Company at 251 N. Market about 1906. Courtesy of Keystone Restaurant Supply.
Image: The Keystone Company about 1921. The company's original 40 foot frontage expanded to 177 feet between 1910 and 1916, and was renumbered 257 N. Market Street.Courtesy of Keystone Restaurant Supply.
Image: Keystone Restaurant Supply at 491 W. San Carlos Street closed its doors in 2018. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce
Further Reading in the California Room:
- California Room Index: Keystone
- California Room Index: Renzel
- San Jose City Directories
- Aerial Photos from 1931, 1948, 1960, 1968, and 1981