Outside Central Grocery on Decatur Street
|Current owner(s)||Salvador T. Tusa|
|Food type||Italian, Greek, French, Spanish, and Creole table delicacies|
|Street address||923 Decatur Street|
|City||French Quarter of New Orleans|
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 Salvador T. Tusa, Salvatore's grandson, and two cousins, Frank Tusa and Larry Tusa. 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 Farmers Market on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. The muffuletta was known only locally 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, Central Grocery was featured on national television, in the PBS special program Sandwiches That You Will Like, and on NBC's The Today Show (five best sandwiches series).
Central Grocery 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's front windows. Marie Lupo Tusa, Salvatore's daughter, is author of the cookbook Marie's Melting Pot, which has hundreds of Sicilian, French, and Creole-style recipes.
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