The Guckenheimer Story

It All Started With a Sandwich

It was 1963 and Stewart Ritchie, then a medical student at Stanford, needed a way to pay for his education — so he began selling homemade sandwiches to his classmates. He later borrowed a lab cart from a local hospital, purchased artisan sandwiches from a local deli, and created a popular lunch stand.

Demand was so high that Stewart’s girlfriend Jeanie (later his wife) recruited friends and classmates to help sell sandwiches across campus. The keys to their success? Personalized, superior service, quality food, and hard work. By the time Stewart and Jeanie graduated college, they were running an extremely successful company with 10 lunch stands and over $100,000 in annual revenue.

The Ritchies were drawn to food’s ability to engage people and bring them together.

Feeding people became their passion, and they established Guckenheimer Enterprises, Inc., in 1967. They wanted to change the world by creating a sense of community.

Why Guckenheimer?

The Ritchies’ early offerings were European, Old World–style gourmet sandwiches and Bavarian desserts. An early partner’s wife suggested naming the company “Guckenheimer,” a made-up word that roughly translates to “look home” in German. It defined both their culinary inspirations, and the sense of comfort and hospitality the team fostered from the start.

A Pioneer in Workplace Dining

In the late 1960s, Dr. Ritchie wrote a letter to David Packard with an idea to provide lunch service for employees. Soon after, Guckenheimer launched its first engagement dining facility, on Hewlett-Packard’s campus. On-site dining was a game-changing way to engage and retain teams in a corporate, cubicle-laden environment. Through word of mouth in the ’70s, companies around the U.S. enlisted Guckenheimer to create cultural centers where employees could eat, meet, and collaborate.

Over the years, Guckenheimer crafted food experiences for industry leaders like Wells Fargo Bank, Microsystems, Levi Strauss, the Nike Corporation, and Sony Pictures. Culinary excellence, generous customer service, and health and human performance have always been at the forefront, both for clients and Guckenheimer’s own employees.

In 2001, Guckenheimer was recognized as “Emerging Company of the Year” by the San Francisco Chapter for Corporate Growth. In his speech upon accepting the award, Dr. Ritchie said:

“My main message is that culture trumps everything else in a service company. Our mission is to do a basic job, food service. Our goal is to astonish and delight our customers with our food, merchandising, and employee behavior and to make our restaurants and services a positive part of day-to-day life in our host companies so that the clients simply can’t let us go.”

Dr. Ritchie served as Guckenheimer’s CEO until he passed away in 2010, at which point Jeanie Ritchie stepped into the position. In 2012, Randall Boyd joined the company as CEO, with Ms. Ritchie serving as Executive Chairman of the Board.

Present-Day Guckenheimer

In 2017, the company was acquired by ISS, the global facility services leader based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Learn more about ISS here.

Today, Guckenheimer is on a mission to to shape the future of nutritional engagement strategy through technology and innovation. The company services over 400 corporations in 34 states (and growing), with a dedicated workforce of over 4,000 employees. Guckenheimer has partnered with dozens of corporations on Forbes’ “100 Best Companies to Work For,” including Google, Warner Bros., Barclays, and more.