1876 was a good year.
In 1876 — the same year that Budweiser was introduced — a Bavarian immigrant named Lewis Bear established a grocery and chandlery shop in Pensacola, Florida. Our original location, a grocery and chandlery shop, was located on South Palafox Street where the Saenger Theatre now sits. Over the years, the company evolved from a grocery wholesaler to the region’s most respected beer and beverage distribution company.
Fifteen years after opening, we made our first purchase from Anheuser-Busch (AB), and LBC has continuously distributed their products ever since. In 1892, we moved our operations to a new warehouse and office building at the corner of Palafox and Main, thereafter known as the “Bear Block,” where we expanded our offerings beyond groceries to include building materials, animal feed, liquor and other merchandise. Family-owned and operated for five generations, The Lewis Bear Company (LBC) is the oldest privately held corporation in Florida and Anheuser-Busch’s oldest continuous distributor.
Following Lewis Bear’s death in 1895, the company passed to his eldest sons, Morris and Max, and in 1901 LBC was reorganized as a corporation and Budweiser franchise. The brothers worked hard to expand LBC’s territory and sales, developing new facilities and transportation capabilities, delivering goods to the small lumber towns sprouting up along the Gulf of Mexico.
Morris Bear served as president of the family company from 1901 until his death in 1928. Upon his death, his son, Lewis Bear became president. Lewis Bear served until his retirement in 1973 and was followed by his nephew, Robert Kahn. Robert served as president for 15 years until his cousin Lewis Bear Pollak was named president in 1988. Lewis Pollak served as president for two years and was followed in 1990 by Lewis Bear, Jr. who still serves as president to this day.
Generation by generation, LBC has evolved and adapted to changing markets and innovations, from our origins wholesaling everything from canned goods and fresh meats to appliances and pharmaceuticals. In 1995, the grocery company was sold, and the immediate family bought out all other (54) stockholders.
Today, The Lewis Bear Company has two warehouse facilities, employs a highly skilled team of 225 professionals and handles distribution and merchandising for 2500+ accounts. The Company remains dedicated to serving its customers and the community.