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ICYMI: The Big Cheese on Broadway

Dean & Deluca, the high-end food purveyor at the corner of Broadway and Prince Street, opened in 1973 as The Cheese Store at 120 Prince Street (between Greene and Wooster). In 1977, Giorgio DeLuca, son of an Italian food importer, along with two partners, Joel Dean and Jack Ceglic, opened the first Dean & DeLuca store across the street, on the other side of Prince near Greene Street.

The Cheese Store, precursor to Dean & Deluca at 120 Prince Street 1970s (photo: Ben Schonzeit)

DeLuca describes how he came to open the now world-famous store in David Kamp’s The United States of Arugula, “A lot of this was in reaction to the processed food that America was starting to live on. …Americans were losing their ability to taste.  I wanted to show that some things are better than others.”

Indeed, Dean and Deluca introduced SoHo and New York City to imported foods and cheeses and the highest quality produce not found in other stores. Jack Ceglic, a painter, designed the store’s innovative interior by painting everything white and using metal shelving, until then only used to store food, to display the food with few distractions, a design tactic that is common today, but was unheard of back then.

Aaron Shkuda, author of The Lofts of SoHo, explains, “To Ceglic, Dean and Deluca was like a canvas to display the ideas of its founders. …As a painting does, the store had a message,: to display the specialness of food by shape and color…”

Dean & Deluca interior (photo: Brad Paris)

In October 1988, the store expanded and relocated to its current location at 560 Broadway at the corner of Prince Street. This 1883 building, designed by Thomas Stent, was commissioned by John Jacob Astor and his brother William. Former tenants include Dieckerhoff, Raffloer & Co., an importer of German notions and fancy goods, Robert Ries & Co., manufacturers of men’s underwear, the banking firm of Edwards & Reirdan Co., and the Max Protetch Gallery.

Dean & Deluca’s new Bio Nutrition Bar

In 2014, PACE Development Corporation PLC purchased Dean & Deluca and it continues to be a popular destination for food lovers and has expanded its brand worldwide. Today, while Dean & DeLuca has grown to numerous locations throughout the United States and in 10 countries worldwide, they continue to maintain a strong presence in New York with its flagship location at Broadway and Prince and three satellite  locations located in New York City.  The company continues to innovate long after its founders left the company, make sure you check out the new line of bio-nutrition bars exotic ingredients such as Manuka Honey, wild-caught salmon, and Mekabu, a wild seaweed.

Editor’s Note:  The Look Back series is on hiatus during the summer.  We hope you enjoyed this previous article from the series.

Yukie Ohta is founder of The SoHo Memory Project 

Read more from the Look Back at SoHo Broadway Series by Yukie Ohta 

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