Vending has long served as an economical way for food companies to establish themselves as retail brands. Coach Joe’s Markets , an Atlanta, Ga.-based foodservice provider specializing in comfort food, is well on its way to becoming an established brand, thanks in large measure to a fortuitous meeting with Southern Refreshment Services , one of Georgia’s largest refreshment services companies.

Since beginning with a small hot dog restaurant three years ago, company founder Joe Crosby, Jr. now has two Coach Joe’s Markets and a wholesale food operation that delivers more than 100 menu items to stores and vending/micro market operators. The company is expanding on its already extensive menu of comfort foods with items like shrimp and grits.

The company has already made a name for itself, and its products can be found at the Atlanta airport, two Ace Hardware stores, an A to Zinc Health Store & Smoothie Bar, a high school recreation department, Coach Joe’s Market retail stores, and on the Home Shopping Network. The company uses different co-packers and uses a third-party shipper to deliver frozen product.