For most of the 20th century, Shapiro's was one of Chattanooga's most authentic New York-style delicatessens, featuring "half-done" pickles with no vinegar, pastrami sandwiches and "Coca-Cola cake."
In the accompanying 1960 photo, Shapiro's Gift Pantry and Delicatessen, as it was known then, had just moved to 723 Cherry St. Before that, it had been on Broad Street.
By 1960 the business was already 35 years old, having been established in 1925 by husband and wife, Isadore and Eva Shapiro, on Ninth Street (now M.L. King Boulevard).
This photograph was taken by John Goforth of the Chattanooga News-Free Press after the 1960 relocation. It is part of a collection of vintage images of Chattanooga viewable at ChattanoogaHistory.com.
By 1960, Shapiro's was owned by Barney J. Brody, the nephew of Eva Shapiro. Brody, a World War II pilot and board member of the Chattanooga Jewish Community Center, was the owner who expanded the business to include gourmet and international food.
A grand opening ad in the Chattanooga News-Free Press in June 1960 invited customers to drop by the new Cherry Street location for sandwiches -- corned beef, pastrami and po' boys were customer favorites. Downtown workers could also duck into Shapiro's on their coffee breaks for cinnamon rolls and apple strudel made in an in-house pastry shop.
For much of its history, Shapiro's was more than a sandwich shop. In a news story in the Chattanooga News-Free press in 1960,it was reported, "In its modern new (Cherry Street) location the delicatessen will expand its present line of items to include gourmet and imported foods and a gift package and fruit basket department."
The deli also developed a catering service.
Shapiro's was famous for its fruit and gift baskets, which were available to ship worldwide. In the 1960s, fruit baskets were priced at $5 to $25 and were pitched for "hospital patients, birthdays, new parents, bon voyage parties and condolences."
In 1960, the price of corned beef at Shapiro's was $1.49 per pound, while Swiss cheese sold for 99 cents a pound. Sardines packed in olive oil were five cans for $1, and smoked oysters were three cans for $1. Shapiro's was also an early adopter of "health food" with no-salt and no-sugar items on the menu as early as 1960.
In the 1990s, then co-owner Bob Dial said that different owners through the years always tried to keep the deli true to its roots. Dial and his partner, Ralph Cheek, purchased the deli from W.D. Dickerson in 1990.
"We've tried not to change much," Dial said in an interview with the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1996. "It has always worked well, so we keep it as traditional as we can."
The deli continued to operate into the 21st century, but there are no live mentions of the business in newspaper archives after 2008. The Cherry Street address, only a few doors down from an American National Bank branch in 1960, was most recently listed online as home to a cigar shop.
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