Snack ’N Shop was one of Atlanta’s iconic delis and gathering places for 43 years. Founded in 1958, the Landau and Feldman families owned and managed this popular destination until Dave Landau retired and the Feldman family closed it in 1996.
Landau and Saul Feldman were brothers-in-law. Landau married Saul’s sister, Fran in 1953 and they had two children; Saul Feldman married Renee and they had three.
It seemed like a family reunion whenever members of both families came together. Several reminisced with the AJT recently and shared memories.
The first of the family’s delis was located in the Plaza shopping center on Ponce de Leon Avenue. Renee Feldman recalled, “It was known as Angels and was owned and run by my mother-in-law Sylvia Feldman and my husband, Saul. It opened as a delicacy store and delicatessen takeout. There were no recipes at the time; everything was made the way it was in Eastern Europe.”
In 1958, Saul Feldman and Dave Landau joined together and moved the deli to a larger shopping center close to Emory University at Clairmont and North Decatur roads. With only four tables, it became known with the Emory crowd and the nearby Jewish community as the place to see and be seen.
In 1961, Feldman and Landau opened a second store at the intersection of West Paces Ferry Road and Northside Parkway, and that location became a bigger center of activity. “There were eight tables and six booths,” Renee Feldman explained.
“A group of local guys came and went to a back corner table every Sunday morning. They were known as the Sunday Breakfast Club and even had their own Sunday Morning Board of Directors plaque for the table,” according to Jan Landau Lewin. (The Jewish Breakfast Club was relaunched in recent years.)
“Men from Ahavath Achim Synagogue would drop off their children for Sunday school, and then come for coffee, a chat, and to buy food before picking up their children and heading home for a fresh deli lunch.”
Renee Feldman added, “We were so connected with our synagogues. I was the first baby naming during Rabbi Joseph Cohen’s time at Or VeShalom, and Saul was brought up at Shearith Israel, so we became a wonderful blend of Sephardic and Ashkenazic.
“We kept kosher at home, and we wanted the deli to be kosher, but it also carried non-kosher items and was open on Saturdays. First, we bought bagels from Manhattan Bakery and then bought loose pasta from New York. Later we added packaged and other specialties, including cole slaw and potato salad. We learned how to cook homemade gefilte fish and chopped liver.”
Lewin contributed, “I still get asked to bring my grandchildren’s Eastern European potato salad to events. The recipe was always a family secret. One of my favorite memories is running to the back of the store and scooping up a bowl of still-warm potato salad from Cherry, a woman who worked at the store for years and was like family.”
Movers and Shakers
Snack ‘N Shop was popular and beloved by the Atlanta community, Lewin said. The walls and meat scales were often covered with articles and photos of Atlanta’s well-known folks who ate there on a regular basis, including Lester Maddox, Maynard Jackson, Rodney Cook, Sam Massell, Ted Turner and Jane Fonda. “You knew you had made it when your name was taped to the meat scale. It was not uncommon to see Braves and Hawks players, the CEO of Havertys or The Coca-Cola Company at the store having a meal.”
Renee Feldman said, “I loved seeing everyone and having our finger on the pulse of the community. We served as a gathering place, which kept us all interconnected with the Jewish and the greater Atlanta community. Some special memories include our matzah brei cookoff in the kitchen and lining up Rosh Hashanah orders in brown bags all around the store each year because there were so many to fill.
Another unforgettable time was when Samuel Venable, then head of the Ku Klux Klan, a regular customer, was questioned by Saul’s mother, Sylvia, who asked him, “I like seeing and talking with you when you come in for our food, but why do you hate the Jews so much?”
Danny Saul, who lived nearby, shared some memories of Snack ‘N Shop. “In a strip center in Northwest Atlanta, Snack ‘N Shop was located, and it was always our ‘go to’ place after school or for Sunday brunch. At this neighborhood deli, the Feldmans and the Landaus knew everyone. Whether eating at a table or picking up an order, friendly faces were always present.
“I was introduced to the deliciousness of pastrami and corned beef in their sandwiches. The customer service and quality of food was a constant. There were not too many delis in the South or in Atlanta in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. With Snack ‘N Shop, we only needed the ONE! Nothing has taken the place of this nostalgic neighborhood deli. The Atlanta Jewish community still misses them!” Some may argue that Atlanta’s current Jewish-style delis, such as Goldbergs and Bagelicious, have tried to capture the same neighborhood feel.
As she turned to go inside her Atlanta home following an AJT interview, Renee Feldman smiled and said of former customers, “’Love of good food I learned from you,’ they said. And they live far and wide.”