Abraham Haas: Pioneer Jewish Purveyor of Food Stuffs, Wholesale & Retail, Los Angeles

Abraham Haas  

Abraham Haas

Values Codes I – E – P

 

Abraham Haas was born in Bavaria in 1847.

He arrived in Los Angeles by way of the Isthmus of Panama at the age of 17.

 

Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, Abraham Haas started a wholesale/retail grocery store with his brother, Jacob, and other partners, Herman  W. Hellman and Bernard Cohn.

Hellman, Hass & Co. was founded in Los Angeles around 1867, and was located on Los Angeles Street, across from H. Newmark &  Co.

Hass, Baruch & Hellman Co., Los Angeles

The store sold “everything from drugs to explosives.”

Packaged goods were unknown at the time: food staples arrived in bulk and typically were sold by weight.

There were prunes in huge casks, barrels of currants from Greece, and rice for the town’s burgeoning Chinese population.

So vital was the store that Hellman, Haas & Co. was one of seven names in the first Los Angeles phone directory.

Haas’ underground Los Angeles power plant

From his share of profits from Hellman, Haas & Co., Abraham Haas launched the first flour milling and cold storage businesses in Los Angeles, along with several electricity and gas companies — the forerunners of current Southern California power companies.

In the 1880’s, Hellman, Haas & Co. had changed hands: The sole owners now were Abraham Haas and Jacob Baruch, who bought out Herman Hellman when Hellman took over as Manager of the Farmers and Merchants Bank.

In 1889, the company name was changed to Haas, Baruch & Co.

By 1900, Haas, Baruch & Co. was the growing city’s preeminent wholesale grocer.

Haas, Baruch & Co. eventually morphed into the current Smart & Final grocery chain. (There was a real Mr. Smart and a real Mr. Final!)

Family

Abraham Haas

Abraham Haas married Fanny Koshland of San Francisco in 1886.

Haas left Southern California at that time to settle in San Francisco, where he founded Haas Wholesale Grocers, which became the leading wholesaler in the Bay Area.

Abraham Haas died August 8, 1921.

[Click here to read about Abraham Haas’ San Francisco Years]

Sources

  • Bernise Scharlach, “Abe Haas: Portrait of a Proud Businessman,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 12/1.
  • Norton B. Stern, “Haas Brothers,” Western States Jewish History 41/1.

Plaque to Hass Underground Powerhouse, Los Angeles