SAN JOSE -- The family behind the Race Street fish and poultry powerhouse is getting out of the wholesale business but plans to keep the Seafood Kitchen restaurant open.

Race Street Seafood Kitchen -- where customers flock to eat fish and chips, crab and chowder -- will remain in business, with plans to expand.

The owners of the family-owned Race Street Foods wholesale operation, with more than 2,000 clients in 10 Bay Area counties, have sold to Sysco, a Houston-based corporation with annual revenues of more than $37 billion.

Michael Barsanti, chief financial officer of Race Street and one of the four current owners, says the sale came about because his older brother Dan and cousin Jim Riparbelli are both nearing retirement age. The fourth co-owner is David Riparbelli.

"Given their desire to retire, we decided it was best to sell. It really isn't any more than that," Barsanti says.

Customers who frequented 253 Race St. will have to look elsewhere for the 10,000 pounds of fresh Dungeness crab they collectively bought every Christmas week and the 600 turkeys at Thanksgiving. That operation will close Oct. 14.

However, the Seafood Kitchen, at 247 Race St. -- co-owned by Dan Barsanti and Jim Riparbelli -- will not only stay open but likely expand into the market space where the retail counter is currently situated.

"The kitchen is still going to be going strong," assistant manager Kevin Riparbelli says. "We've always been two separate businesses."

He says customers still will find their favorite grilled seafood, fish and chips, chowder and Dungeness crab on the menu.

Plus the homemade tartar sauce. "I think we'd have a major mutiny if something happened to the tartar sauce," he says.

The sale will not affect the 2 acres of property the families own on Race, Barsanti says.

"We have leases running through 2015 and nothing is going to change until past that date, and if they renew those leases it will be even longer," he says.

A San Jose business dating back to 1947, Race Street was started by Gino Barsanti, his uncle Ugo Stefani and his brother-in-law Perry Riparbelli in a small house on Race.

Stefani retired in the mid 1950s and Gino Barsanti and Perry Riparbelli continued the business and started wholesaling. Both Stefani and Riparbelli have died.

Through the early 1970s, chickens were slaughtered at Race Street and Barsanti says customers still tell him stories of seeing chickens break free and run down Race Street. He knows at least one made it inside St. Leo's Church.

Founders Riparbelli and Barsanti passed the reins to their oldest sons in 1980. They were later joined by younger brothers Mike and Steve Barsanti and David Riparbelli.

They expanded the wholesale business, building a 63,000-square-foot processing and distribution facility, hear Highways 101 and 280.

In 1995 they added a full line of beef, pork and lamb products and changed their name to Race Street Foods.