One family, full of rich heritage since 1905.
Shapiro's Delicatessen


Shapiros postcard circa 1950s'Louis and Rebecca Shapiro arrive in Indianapolis from their native Russia and begin selling flour and sugar on the street from a pushcart. They fled from their homeland due to the anti-Semite pogroms of the turn of the century that resulted in vandalism of their family grocery in Odessa.


After raising capital for two years, the Shapiros open a small grocery-deli in the working class neighborhood a few blocks south of downtown Indianapolis. They stock canned goods and kosher deli meats from the Vienna Meat Company. The Shapiros live above the store with their eight children, all of whom work there as business grows steadily. They family wakes every day at 3 a.m. with the admonishment, “The day is half over already!”


In defiance of the election of well-known Ku Klux Klan member Ed Jackson as Indiana’s governor, Louis proudly redecorates his store in a modern art-deco style, emblazoning “Shapiro’s Kosher Foods” on the front along with the Star of David.


With the end of Prohibition, Shapiro’s begins to transition into more of a restaurant. They start selling beer for 10 cents a bottle, along with salami and corned beef sandwiches. Tables and chairs are added, then a steam table to showcase dinner entrees like Rebecca’s spaghetti and meatballs. Louis gradually turns over the running of the store to sons Abe, Izzy and Max.


Louis retires for good, with Abe presiding over the kitchen with his signature corned beef recipe, Izzy manning the counter and Max overseeing the business side. The cafeteria officially opens, and Shapiro’s becomes a Southside magnet for working families attracted to its moderate prices and downtown professionals who’ve heard tales of their legendary sandwiches.


Max continues as “major domo” of Shapiro’s for 44 years — past age 80 — directing several expansions and rarely taking any vacations. His wife, Ann Selig Shapiro, personally perfects many of the store’s famous desserts, including the strawberry cheesecake.


Shortly before Max’s death, his nephew and grand-nephew, banker Mort Shapiro and law school graduate Brian Shapiro, convince Max to open a second location near Township Line Road and West 86th Street. Max had long resisted the idea of another store, due to his insistence on perfection. But the new location takes off, and with Max’s passing Brian takes over day-to-day operations and his dad, Mort, handles books and payroll.


USA Today dubs Shapiro’s trademark offering “the finest corned beef sandwich in the world.” The meat from the Vienna Beef Company is a white-fat, grain-fed product that is brined with a secret mixture of 35 spices. The briskets are loaded into a giant kettle at Shapiro’s to churn for hours until tender and succulent, then sliced and served fresh every day.


Mort passes away, leaving the stewardship of Shapiro’s Delicatessen and Cafeteria in Brian’s hands — the fourth generation of a family business heading into its second century of serving unparalleled kosher-style fare.


After closing the West 86th Street restaurant, Shapiro’s breaks ground on Rangeline Road in Carmel for a new location to replace it. The doors open in June 2002.


In February, someone welding on the roof started a small fire in the apartment once occupied by Louis, Rebecca and their young children. Located on the third floor of the downtown restaurant firemen, and the sprinkler system, quickly extinguished any threat.

Scott Olson of the Indianapolis Business Journal “reports on the rebuilding of Shapiro’s Delicatessen in Indianapolis, Indiana which was damaged by fire on February 2003.” “Water used to douse the flames has created a much larger headache for (Brian) Shapiro than the fire. Five inches left standing on the floor, and another foot in the basement, raised concerns from Shapiro’s insurance company about the spread of mold”. Hopes of reopening in April, delays held things up until late May-a full three months after the fire.


IND airport is one of the first new airports to open in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001. Opening in November of 2008, the restaurants were focused on locally owned establishments, not chains, giving IND visitors a true Midwest taste of our hospitality. Shapiro’s Delicatessen, St. Elmo’s and Indy 500 all partnered with SSP America to oversee daily operations, sharing some behind the scene kitchen space. Although the bakery downtown supplies desserts, all other food is hand prepared on site at the airport facility.


Shapiro’s Carmel location closes in June due to changes and delays in the city’s development plans for the area. The original plan of a walking-shopping-dining experience surrounding The Carmel Performing Arts Center and the Monon Trail, once scheduled to open in 2005, dramatically changed and development stopped for many years.


In January Shapiro’s launched a new concept, Shapiro’s Twisted Traditions, a fast-casual dining experience at Keystone at the Crossing’s Fashion Mall. Downtown, people still line up early for meals at Shapiro’s celebrated original cafeteria-style tradition on South Meridian Street. They continue to sell more than 3,000 pounds of corned beef a week, along with an expanded array of hand crafted specialties, from scratch.