It’s been a season of change for Fertitta’s Deli, 1124 Fairfield Ave. The little building and business there have been a part of downtown since it was constructed by John and Mary Fulco in 1927. When the business first opened, it was a delicatessen that catered to the bustling neighborhood around it.
In 1949, the business became the Crystal Supermarket, your “complete food mart with fresh fish everyday.’ By 1960 as the nearby neighborhood continued to empty out and times got tight, the family decided to do something completely different.
They became the first grocery store in the area to import foods from Italy by way of New Orleans- Italian meats, olives and pasta- and the business then morphed into Fertitta’s Delicatessen. For more than 40 years, Agatha Fertitta-McCall, granddaughter of John and Mary Fulco, and husband Robert McCall, continued the family tradition of welcoming hungry diners to their little restaurant.
As a wise person once said, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’ in 2021, son Patrick Fertitta moved back to Shreveport to assist in the family business, and in February, Robert McCall passed away.
It was a sad time for the Ferttita-McCalls, but also a time to reflect on the wonderful history of the business, and of the special family that has been a part of it from the beginning. There has been a renewed interest in revisiting some of the business’ historic roots- in late 2021, Patrick Fertitta began Padre Fertitta Foods. He is once again importing fine Italian olive oil, balsamic vinegars, cold cuts and marinara, and bottling wonderful pickled vegetables.
There is also work being done on the buildings exterior. For years, the neon sign atop the building has been dark; no more.
Coca-cola emblems stolen from the building have been replaced, and the concrete containers outside have been planted with flowers bursting with color.
It is as if the little restaurant is saying that sad times only make you grow stronger, more determined. If there was ever a fear that this wonderful little place might vanish quietly into that good night, it seems the answer is a strong and more determined, ‘no.’