Friday, April 16, 2010

Central Grocery

Central Grocery is a small, old-fashioned Italian-American grocery store with a sandwich counter located at 923 Decatur Street, in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. It was founded in 1906 by Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant. He operated it until 1946 when he retired and his son-in-law, Frank Tusa took over the operation. Today it is owned by Salvatore T. Tusa, Salvatore's grandson and two cousins. The store was one of many family owned, neighborhood grocery stores during the early 20th century, when the French Quarter was still predominantly a residential area. Though tourists are more common in Central now, it has retained much of its old world market feel.

It is famous as the home of the New Orleans muffuletta sandwich invented by Salvatore Lupo, to feed the Sicilian truck farmers who sold their produce at the Farmer's Market on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. The Muffuletta was only locally known until the late 1960s. Now, it has international fame. The Central sells not only the sandwiches as take-out or eat-in, but also the ingredients of the muffuletta—including olive salad by the jar—for people who want to make the sandwich at home. Because of the muffuletta, they were featured on the PBS special Sandwiches That You Will Like and "The Today Show" [five best sandwiches series].

Central Grocery also sells Italian, Greek, French, Spanish, and Creole table delicacies. They also carry less mainstream selections, such as chocolate covered grasshoppers and bumble bees in soy sauce, which are perennially displayed in the store front windows.

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