Ziyad Brothers Importing, originally formed as Syrian Bakery & Grocery Inc. was founded in 1966 by Ahmad and Ibrahim Ziyad. Their business began as a small retail outlet on the south side of Chicago, specializing in hard to find Middle Eastern food products as well as the first Pita Bread bakery in Chicago catering to the Middle Eastern ethnic community. The retail outlet expanded into one of the first automated Pita Bakeries in the Midwest and began distributing Pita bread and Middle Eastern food products to other retail outlets. Ten years later, from these humble beginnings, Ahmad and Ibrahim Ziyad purchased their first warehouse located at 21st and Western Avenue. Ziyad Brothers Importing was born. This warehouse was approximately 30,000 square feet and serviced most retail chains in Chicago and surrounding cities including Jewel and Dominick’s as well as the city’s ethnic markets. Additionally, this facility allowed them to bring Pita production to a new level. Ahmad concentrated mainly on sales while Ibrahim focused his energy on product procurement and product development.
One of Ziyad Brothers Importing greatest blessings was the addition of Ahmad’s and Ibrahim’s sons. Nemer Ziyad, Ahmad Ziyad’s oldest son began at the age of sixteen as one of the first outside sales people, followed by Nassem, Nazmy and Ibrahim’s son, Nezar.
Ziyad Brother’s Western Avenue facility played a great role in the growth of the company’s expansion into distribution. It allowed Z.B.I. to import larger quantities and greater varieties of products from many countries. With Z.B.I.’s distribution growth into 16 states, another facility was needed. A 40,000 square foot building located on 54th and Lawndale, was purchased to warehouse their extensive inventory. With the new facility the company was able to begin a new venture in the roasting of nuts and seeds. As Ziyad Brothers expanded into other markets outside the Midwest, it realized that Middle Eastern foods was its niche. This began the focus on acquiring products from all over the world that were targeted toward the Middle Eastern community. As the company continued to expand, Z.B.I. required even more space.
In 1995, Ziyad Brothers Importing consolidated facilities and moved into the current location in Cicero, IL. This new 150,000 sq. ft. facility was a tremendous accomplishment and a source of great pride for the founders. This new facility gave Z.B.I. the ability to bake Pita bread, pan Jordan Almond candy, roast nuts, seeds and coffee as well as warehouse and distribute imported products under one roof. The facility supports an impressive showroom as well as their administrative offices.
In 1996, Ziyad Brothers Importing suffered a huge loss, with the sudden passing of company founder Ahmad Ziyad at the age of 56. At this point Ibrahim Ziyad assumed the role of President. Nemer Ziyad became Vice President and Nassem Ziyad rose to the position of General Manager. Nazmy and Nezar Ziyad became responsible for all facility operations.
Z.B.I’s current list of capabilities and accomplishments include:
- Distributes to 46 states and six countries
- Imports and distributes over 1,200 items
- Manufactures Pita bread
- Roasts a full line of Mediterranean nuts and seeds
- Roasts fresh coffee beans
- Exclusive rights to import the following brands:
- Puck Danish cheese products
- Regal Picon and Kiri French cheeses
- Vimto Cordials and sparkling drinks from England
- Al Ghazal vegetable ghees from Jordan
- Ghandour products from Lebanon
- Carries a full line of Halal meat products (bologna, salamis, franks, etc.)
Importantly, Z.B.I. has made some great recent strides with their supermarket program. Offering a variety of set program sizes ranging from 4 feet to 32 feet, Z.B.I. is now branching out from beyond the ethnic only market to mainstream supermarkets. With a new generation of thinking, Z.B.I. is now positioned to grow its distribution through acquisitions and continued product enhancements.