Wichita Vending buys Wichita Canteen, becomes Compass Group franchisee

WICHITA — The more than 50-year-old Wichita Canteen has sold to the 19-year-old Wichita Vending.

“Basically, it’s a merger as I see it,” says Wichita Vending owner and president Joe Hemmelgarn.

Wichita Canteen had been a franchise of North Carolina-based Compass Group. Now, Wichita Vending is.

Hemmelgarn says not much will change.

“We just get to use some of the corporate purchasing power,” he says.

Wichita Vending and Wichita Canteen both have offered a range of food services and vending.

“They’re much larger in the food service business,” Hemmelgarn says of Wichita Canteen.

The company offers food management, including the operation of cafeterias at businesses such as Cessna Aircraft; concession services, including those at Wichita State University and Century II; and inmate commissaries.

That’s what led Hemmelgarn to approach the company, which had been owned by the Grady family since 1959, with an offer. Food service also is what he wants to put an emphasis on now.

“There’s a lot of growth potential on the catering,” Hemmelgarn says. “It goes right along with our food service.”

Wichita Canteen has two buildings in the Mid-Continent Industrial Park just off K-42 between Tyler and Maize Road. Its food service division will remain there, and its vending division will move to Wichita Vending’s headquarters at 4430 W. 29th St.. Hemmelgarn says the move will take about a year.

For now, each company will keep its original name.

“Down the line, we’re going to do a name change,” Hemmelgarn says.

Wayne Smith, the former Wichita Canteen president and new Wichita Vending CFO, says not much else will change.

“We hope to make a seamless transition,” he says.

“What we envision for our customers, previous and future, (is) a bigger company offering … more options,” Smith says. “We’re going to be able to offer bigger and better things.”