Top Menu

Where Was Your Corner Deli?

If you’re a baby boomer who grew up in Adelaide,  just the mere mention of the words ‘corner deli’ will instantly bring back a flood of wonderful memories!

There was a corner deli on almost every second corner in every suburb and they stocked everything from milk and bread to shoe polish and sewing needles. The local corner shop, or deli, was the beating heart of many communities, as well as a source of local gossip and an income for the families who ran them.

Kenny Peplow shared this photo; "Dad's FJ taxi on Henley Beach Road at Torrensville, around 1958-1959." The taxi was parked outside the local deli at the time.

Kenny Peplow shared this photo; “Dad’s FJ taxi on Henley Beach Road at Torrensville, around 1958-1959.” The taxi was parked outside the local deli at the time.

In the 1950s and 1960s we were a less mobile community and most of the shopping was done close to home. There was a local butcher shop with sawdust on the floor and a kindly butcher who always had a slice of fritz for all the kids who might be out shopping with mum. There was the local hardware store, a hairdresser and greengrocer and most other perishables were delivered daily by the milkman, bread man and ice man.

But the corner deli was where you could find most of the essentials of daily living and ‘extra’ grocery items and they continued to play a role as an important fixture in our communities until the mid 60s.

Many little shops were built onto the front of a premises, which also acted as the family home, and as they lived on site, the owners and their families would stay open until 9pm during the week and all weekend, even after church on Sunday.

Corner delis were magical places full of strange aromas and wonderful surprises! Cheeses came in wheels and were cut by slicing with a cheese wire. Fresh ham came on the bone and was sliced by a meat saw. Most of the fresh produce was sold in small quantities, as needed. Sugar and flour came in sacks and was carefully measured out into brown paper bags. Fresh milk came in bottles and cream was ladelled out from a milk urn into your own bottle or container, which you took to the shop.

You could also buy tuppence worth of lollies, choosing from the range behind the faded glass display case, which included conversation lollies, umbrella toffees on a stick, liquorice blocks or a packet of sherbet fizz. There was Amscol ice cream in either single or double scoop cones, or a square raspberry ice block in a square cone (they were also tuppence).

Roger Ray shared this photo of a derelict corner shop, boarded up and probably awaiting demolition

Roger Ray shared this photo of a derelict corner shop near the Maid and Magpie, boarded up and probably awaiting demolition

The motor car and the spread of the supermarket chains, starting with Tom the Cheap, saw the gradual demise of the corner deli. Many continued to trade on into the 70s and even the 80s but with the arrival of the big suburban shopping malls, the final nail was hammered into the coffin.

Driving around Adelaide today, there are still reminders of the days when the corner deli reigned supreme. They are mostly boarded up now, some are still used as family homes, but they stand as a reminder to a fascinating part of our lives, growing up in what I believe was a very special era.

The corner deli is a special part of our childhood memories and an important part of our history as a community, and as a city.

17 Responses to Where Was Your Corner Deli?

  1. Elizabeth Smith October 8, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    I suspect this is 222 Henley Beach Rd Torrensville!

  2. Peter October 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

    The photo of the “corner shop” was not a shop, but actually a plumbing business on Payneham Road, between what used to be a deli in the Earl of Lenster building and a row of two storey terrace shops on the corner of Baliol Street and Payneham Road. The structure has been empty for many years.

    Your comment that corner shops used to stay open all weekend might have been something that occurred in some places but, generally, they had a very limited ability to sell what people wanted. Under legislation at the time shopkeepers were required to put shutters up in front of shelves holding a side variety of supermarket goods and tinned foods at the end of normal bisiness, around 6pm. They could still sell some other goods.

    • John Oliver August 28, 2016 at 6:09 pm #

      David Bell was the name of the plumber who owned and ran the shop.
      He had a old chevy car that he converted into a ute.

  3. Jenny Ashdown October 8, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

    Maskells milkbar corner Ethel street and Leader Street Forestville

  4. Colin Penney October 20, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    Ah yes, “Alexander & Eglington’s” were our corner ‘milk bar’ or deli’, diagonally across from the gate house of the Croydon Railway Station (down track), corner of Euston Terrace and Elizabeth Street, Croydon.
    Just digressing, along Elizabeth Street, on the left going towards Port Road, was a small ‘Fish & Chips’ shop, owned by the father of Eddie White, (who had a band, and at one stage owned
    “The Tivoli” hotel.
    Gee memories.

  5. ben tucker October 21, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

    Glenelg ‘Trains & Tronics’ on the corner of Moseley & Robert Sts, Glenelg Sth, was my corner shop and featured a coin operated train set with all the landscape, built by the proud Scottish proprietor. He ran accounts for the locals, made fantastic ham & cheese toasted rolls (yumbos) and malted chocolate milkshakes. It operated into the 90’s under various owners until it closed and became an accounting office. Glenelg was a wonderful friendly community to grow up in.

    • Colin Penney October 23, 2014 at 8:26 am #

      Lynne, was that run by a short cheery chap, whose Christian/first name was “Colin”,?

  6. Lynne Boothey October 22, 2014 at 4:49 am #

    My local deli was on Dulwich Avenue, Dulwich and there was another on Guerney Road, Rose Park. We would ride our bikes to either shop to buy lollies. Raspberries, bananas and chocolate bullets are the only ones I remember – bullets were 8 for a penny. We’d get a huge bag and have a picnic in the middle of Alexander Avenue in a hut that I think is still there.
    Apart from the bread delivery, milk bottle delivery with the cream on top and ice delivery there were also rabbitos and fishmongers who drove their horses and carts around the streets calling out “rabbits for sale” etc.

  7. Julia Peder October 24, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    Mr Blakely owned the deli on Torrens Road, West Croydon, near South Road. He would give me a slice of fritz.

  8. Sue Jaynes October 28, 2014 at 11:32 pm #

    Our local deli was in a shopping centre, Aroona Place at Glenelg North. It had a doctor, chemist, draper / post office, deli, butcher, greengrocer, grocer and a hairdresser. It has since all been bulldozed.
    As high school kids we often ‘hung out’ there after school or on weekends, meeting up with other friends who had gone to different high schools. Many a story, laugh and ice-cream were shared.

  9. Peter H December 14, 2014 at 3:54 am #

    During the early 1980’s my parents owned the deli on Folland Ave at Northfield . We lived right around the corner from it.

  10. Alex July 15, 2016 at 3:47 pm #

    Our local deli was on the corner of Manton Street and South Road (previously John Street), Hindmarsh. There was a group of shops, which included a barber, two fish & chip shops, a bootmaker. I can still see the friendly proprietor Tom and his cat.

  11. Karl June 25, 2017 at 10:37 pm #

    The local Deli was also known as ‘the Milk Bar’, and was part of the shops in the Campbelltown Shopping Centre. You would get everything there when the Coles New World Supermarket was closed. I remember going to the deli with 2 cents ( or more likely a pre-decimal copper coin ) to get a box of matches for my Opa ( paternal grandfather ). I must have been a pre-schooler. Heck, who would do that these days!?

    There was another Deli in a string of small shops half-way up the road that we kids would occasionally drop into on the way to primary school. Especially so on a Thursday morning – when the garbage collectors would do their rounds. We would salvage the soft drink bottles and take them to that deli for a bag of mixed lollies!


  12. Christine April 18, 2018 at 10:57 pm #

    My deli was at the bottom of huntress st torrensville and I worked there as a teenager in 1966. It was owned by mr and Mrs. Upton who lived in the back. The boys from the school used to come over for morning tea and lunch good and sometimes after school. We had regulars who came in for their grocery shopping. I lived this job

  13. Franci December 23, 2019 at 3:34 pm #

    Blue Dove on Sturt Rd Brighton . Great mixed lolly selection and used to give us kids all the left over pies and pasties not sold on a Saturday arvo for free :))

  14. RussellvPink March 3, 2020 at 10:23 pm #

    When young I used to go up to Daws Rd near Calstock Av, to the deli at California Court. We’d ride our bikes there to get milk etc for Mum, and lollies or chocs. There was also Mr Pavlou’s and wife Helen’s shop on our street, Norrie Ave. They were Greeks, and had that store opposite us (no. 58 Norrie) for at least 20 yrs. Lived three doors along at 64. Sometimes I thought they knew too much local news, mainly about the Pink mob! Jack Pavlou looked so bored with his business after many yes there. Would most likely have passed on in late seventies or 80s.

Leave a Reply