Loving's (copy)

Loving's Produce Co. refrigerated trucks are parked outside of the company's former warehouse at 3811 Castlewood Road, off Jefferson Davis Highway, in South Richmond. The business closed June 15.

Loving’s Produce Co., which has been supplying Richmond-area restaurants, caterers and schools with fruits and vegetables for nearly 75 years, has shut down its operations.

The company closed June 15, said Mary Rhoten, Loving’s Produce’s office manager for the past 30 years.

Brothers Gary and John Loving, owners of the business who are the sons of the company’s founder, decided to retire, she said.

“Gary Loving and John Loving were at a point in their lives where they were ready to retire and there was nobody in the family who was willing to take over the business. So they decided to close it down,” said Rhoten, who is the niece of the company founder.

Gary Loving and John Loving could not be reached for comment.

Their father, Hanover County farmer Harry Loving, returned home from World War II and started the wholesale produce distribution business, sometime either in 1946 or 1947. Harry Loving had started a produce business in the 1930s but closed it when he was away during the war.

It began on Fifth Street in downtown Richmond and eventually moved to 1601 E. Grace St. in Shockoe Bottom.

Loving’s Produce operations on East Grace Street survived five floods over the years, including damage in August 2004 when the remnants of Tropical Storm Gaston flooded Shockoe Bottom.

But after damage from a two alarm fire in July 2005, the company’s owners moved operations in early 2007 into a refrigerated warehouse at 3811 Castlewood Road, off Jefferson Davis Highway in South Richmond.

The company had about 40 employees. It was once one of the largest Richmond-based wholesale fresh fruit and vegetable distributors.

The closing Loving’s Produce comes as competition has increased in recent years in supplying produce and fruit to restaurants and eateries.