Aug 29, 2022
Gloria Hom, Educator, Community Volunteer
The Bayside Cannery: the Story of Thomas Foon Chew

The Bayside Cannery..the Story of Thomas Foon Chew

              Businessman, Innovator, Community Builder

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              Presented by his granddaughter, Dr. Gloria Hom

Thomas Foon (as he liked to be called) came to California as a 10-year-old in 1899 during the era of the Chinese Exclusion Acts and was a multimillionaire when he died of pneumonia in San Jose in 1931 at the age of 42.  His BaySide facility in Alviso canned pears, peaches, apricots, plums, tomatoes, spinach, asparagus, and vegetables for salads under seven different brand names, including Bohemian, Cal Taste, Gondolier, Calico, and Snow Peak. 

At the time, the Alviso cannery was the third largest cannery in the United States. Mr. Chew was known for hiring workers from different ethnicities, providing housing and hot lunches for his Chinese laborers, and for his processing innovations; he was known as the “Asparagus King” for perfecting the commercial canning of green asparagus. His BaySide Cannery corrugated metal facility in Mayfield/Palo Alto is known to locals as the “Fry’s” building. 

Twenty-five thousand people turned out to honor Mr. Chew in a memorial parade in San Fran- cisco’s Chinatown in 1931: a worthy tribute to an American entrepreneur.