Born to Greek immigrants, Payiavlas started his career in food service with a small diner in Warren, Ohio. His entrepreneurial spirit and hard work resulted in him purchasing a small vending company called Automatic Vendors.
He grew the company to serve millions of consumers in some of the most well-known and prestigious businesses, universities and healthcare facilities worldwide. Today, AVI is the largest independently owned and operated contract food service firm in the United States.
Early Life and Education
Born to Greek immigrants in Warren, Ohio, John Payiavlas served in the United States Army and in 1952 was deployed to join UN forces supporting South Korea. He was transferred to the Greek Expeditionary Force Battalion and awarded the Commander’s Silver Cross of Valour, the highest military decoration of the Greek state.
He is founder and chairman of AVI Foodsystems, the country’s largest family-owned and operated contract food service company with over 6,500 locations in 44 states. His daughter, Patrice Payiavlas Kouvas, serves as vice chairman and his son, Anthony J. Payiavlas, is president and CEO. A noted philanthropist, he has supported the Greek Orthodox Church, educational and medical institutions, as well as many other community and business organizations. He is also an Archon Depoutatos of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Life-Time Chairman Emeritus of Leadership 100.
A son of Greek immigrants, Payiavlas grew up in Warren, Ohio and built the country’s largest family-owned contract food service company from the ground up. AVI FOODSYSTEMS serves millions of consumers daily in some of America’s most prestigious institutions, including industrial centers, corporate headquarters complexes, universities and healthcare facilities.
AVI is a highly regarded business and has been in operation since 1962. It provides dining, automated dining, catering and office coffee systems in thousands of locations across the nation. The chairman of AVI, Payiavlas has spent four decades building the company into one of the most respected companies in its industry. He is married to Marisa, and they have two children and six grandchildren. They reside in Warren, Ohio. Currently, he is chairman of the company and his son, Anthony, is president and CEO.
Achievements and Honors
A son of immigrants from Greece, John Payiavlas grew up in a working-class family trying to achieve the American dream. He was drafted into the United States Army in 1951 and served in the Korean War. He was awarded the Commander’s Silver Cross of Valour, the highest military decoration of his native country.
He founded AVI Foodsystems in 1962 and built the company into one of the largest contract food service companies in the United States. AVI serves clients in over 6,500 locations across the nation. Their services include vending, institutional dining and coffee service operations. Currently, they provide their products and services to prestigious clients in the business, education, healthcare and leisure sectors.
John Payiavlas is the founder of AVI Foodsystems, a company that he built from a small vending business to one of the largest family-owned contract food service companies in the country. His company serves millions of consumers at industrial centers, corporate headquarters complexes, universities and healthcare facilities throughout the country.
A son of Greek immigrants, he started the company in 1960 with a few vending machines and later added enhanced business dining and catering services. In the mid 1980s, the company expanded to new geographic markets and began serving colleges and universities, healthcare facilities and sports and leisure complexes.
As a son of immigrants, Payiavlas grew up trying to make his family’s dream of living in the United States a reality. He and his wife, Marisa Tsagaris, opened and operated a diner in Warren, Ohio called “Village Cafe” until an acquaintance presented him with an opportunity that changed history.
His decision to seize this opportunity later led to the founding of AVI Foodsystems Inc. Today, the company is the largest independently owned contract food service company in America serving prestigious clients in business, education and healthcare.
Intensely private, Payiavlas runs the company as chairman of the board, while his son Anthony is president and CEO and his daughter Patrice (Patsy) Kouvas serves as vice chairman. His commitment to family values and a strong work ethic are woven into every facet of the organization.