The parent company of Fortune Fish & Gourmet, which entered the Twin Cities three years ago by buying Minneapolis wholesaler Coastal Seafoods, is expanding its Minnesota empire of specialty foods through the purchase of Plymouth-based Classic Provisions.

The Chicago-based food distributor on Tuesday said it completed the acquisition of Classic Provisions Inc., known for its award-winning cheese selection with a focus on local brands.

Fortune International, the parent company, began gobbling up various import and distribution businesses throughout the Midwest in 2012. It is now among the nation's largest seafood and specialty purveyors, supplying restaurants and retailers, including dozens of Whole Foods in the Midwest, with meat, seafood and specialty import foods.

Its expansion in Minnesota reflects the company's confidence in the local food scene, Mark Palicki, president of Fortune, said in an e-mail.

"We have always been impressed with the Minnesota food market, it is extremely strong and growing. The chefs in the area are producing some of the best food in the country and we haven't seen another market with a stronger retail presence," Palicki said. "We are excited to be a part of it."

Classic will expand Fortune's expertise, supplier relationships, selection of artisan products and cheese-cutting capabilities, the company said. The company was founded in 1989 and now sells more than 500 types of imported and local cheese as well as products like olives, pasta, chocolate and spices.

"Once we entered the Minnesota market, it became obvious to us that the reputation of Classic Provisions with their customers was remarkable," Sean J. O'Scannlain, Fortune's chief executive, said in a statement.

Fortune will continue to run Classic out of its existing Plymouth facility through the summer before moving all of its production and distribution load to the newly expanded Minneapolis warehouse located across the street from Coastal Seafood's retail store in south Minneapolis.

John Byom, co-owner and CEO of Classic Provisions, has led the company since 2007. He will stay on through the transition.

"I think this is a really good fit for both companies," Byom said. "I think the opportunities for growth and expansion in Minnesota are really good."

Classic has 23 employees, many of them with past experience as chefs, cooks or in food retail. Palicki said they will continue working for Fortune in similar roles.

Sally Witham, co-owner and president of Classic Provisions, joined the company in 2002 and will continue with Fortune as vice president of Fortune Gourmet Minnesota. She said the new ownership won't change its approach and customer relationships.

"We've always been on the lookout for new specialty products for our customers and that won't change," Witham said in a statement. "Also, our staff will be providing customers with their same well-known expertise and personalized service, with the added benefit of Fortune's products and service."

Kristen Leigh Painter • 612-673-4767