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Corporate Dining Entrepreneur Dies

Don Phelps, who founded Buena Park-based Food Systems Inc. in 1972, died March 3 at age 84. A memorial service is planned in Newport Beach on April 2.

Food Systems Inc. runs corporate cafes and provides event dining services for clients that include tech company Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., farmers’ trade group Western Growers, and apparel maker Asics America Corp., each in Irvine.

FSI revenue was $4 million in 2015, and it has 48 employees companywide, according to President Tom Snelling, who is Phelps’ stepson.

“He was a fantastic mentor and had a huge wealth of experience and knew a lot of people in the business,” he said. “He shared that knowledge with others and even in passing didn’t leave the cupboard bare.”

Phelps helped successfully lobby Sacramento for sales tax relief for vending machine operators in California.

The Newport Coast resident served as the president of the California Automated Vending Council and as a member of the California Restaurant Association and the National Automatic Merchandising Association.

He raised money for scholarships in his trade group work and wrote books on business ethics and entrepreneurship.

Phelps is survived by Sally, his wife of 43 years, and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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