Fertitta’s is the very definition of a Shreveport dining institution. The building that houses this hallowed eatery was built in 1927 and has never been out of the hands of the same family. It is one of only a few restaurants in the state of Louisiana on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally built by John Fulco as a neighborhood grocery, it passed to his son-inlaw Sam R. Fertitta and his wife Florence in 1949. It was known as Crystal Grocery until 1960, when Sam Fertitta began selling sandwiches -- almost by accident. Sam was selling Muffelletta bread from New Orleans at his store and one day he threw some things together and made himself a sandwich with the bread. A customer from the United Gas Company happened by and Sam let him taste the sandwich. The next Monday the store was flooded with customers from United who had heard about the incredible sandwich they were selling at Crystal Grocery. Sam had hit on something special and started doing a brisk business selling Muffelleta sandwiches. When he ordered a neon sign constructed atop the building to proclaim “Fertitta’s Home of the Muffelletta” he learned it was too many letters to afford. Thus was born the “Muffy” simply because it was cheaper to put on a sign. The name “Muffy” was trademarked locally in 1961 and registered nationally in 1986.
Today, the “Muffy” is still the cornerstone of the Fertitta’s tradition and is made on the
Muffelletta bread with savory mustard, Cotto salami, pickle loaf, Danish ham, spiced luncheon loaf, cheddar, mozzarella, and provolone cheese and, of course, Papa Fertitta’s world famous Olive Mix, the recipe to which is a closely guarded family secret. The Muffy has made Fertitta’s one of Shreveport’s favorite lunch destinations for generations and shows no signs of slowing down. They also offer Pronto Pizzas, another Fertitta’s creation using the Muffelletta bread, three other sandwiches, Italian salads, Cannolis, Biscotti, and other Italian delicacies.
Sam and Florence lived above the store with their four children -- Mickey, twins John and Joe, and their only daughter Agatha, who now owns and operates Fertitta’s with her husband, Robert McCall. The McCall’s still live above the store. In addition to keeping the Fertitta legacy alive in the delicatessen, Agatha and Robert have expanded
into catering in a big way. They hold catered events in the restaurant or they can come to you if needed. They also ship their sandwiches and other products like Papa Fertitta’s Olive Mix all over the country.
There are not a lot of options on the Fertitta’s Delicatessen Menu but they all hold to the tradition of excellence started by Sam and continued today by his daughter. It’s a close hop from downtown and worth the drive from wherever you are. I tell visitors to
Shreveport-Bossier that it doesn’t get any more authentic than Fertitta’s Delicatessen.
Article by Karl Hasten
Cover Photograph by: Scott Griffin
“Out to Lunch”, The Forum, Shreveport, LA - February 23, 2005