In 1885, Alfred M. Lewis came to Riverside from Illinois and worked in various jobs for the next four years. In 1889 he hired on to work in the grocery store that Benjamin and John Rockhold had just opened. Alfred quickly learned all about the grocery business and in 1906 opened his own grocery store with his partner Albert Thresher. They became very successful and in 1909 bought out the Rockhold brothers’ entire business.
Lewis worked very hard building up his grocery empire and it became a name that was recognized throughout the west.
In 1914 the Lewis and his wife, Catherine, built their dream home at 4587 Mission Inn Avenue. The home had unique deep front porches that extended across both floors. The top floor had four bedrooms and two of those had French doors that opened onto the top porch. Catherine and Lewis choose that particular site because the 7th Street Line started its streetcar route right in front of their house and Catherine loved to travel around town using the streetcars.
Albert Thresher sold his interest in the business to Lewis in 1918. Within a few short years Lewis’s main store had become famous for its outstanding products and free delivery. His store was renowned for carrying fine meat and groceries, a bakery that served fresh items, a produce department that sold rare items and offering additional services that included roasting meats for customers. He also offered free delivery service from all four of his Riverside stores.
By the time Lewis retired in 1939 he had built 36 warehouses tactically placed throughout the western states. A. M. Lewis, Incorporated became one of the largest wholesale food distributors and institutional suppliers in the state. He maintained his corporate offices in Riverside.
Lewis was active in the Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts, Rotary, the Pioneer Society, the Independent Order of Foresters, and was a Knight Templar Mason.