Publix deli history comparison.

Pub subs, fried chicken and other delicious ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat items from our deli have become a staple in many homes, but do you know the history of the Publix Deli? Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the origin of this beloved department and how your household favorites came to be.

How It All Began – The Delicatessen

As Publix expanded through the 1950s and 1960s, the lunch meat and cheese selections were introduced as part of the meat department. That all changed in 1967 when those items were moved to their own section of the store called the delicatessen. In 1969 new signage and refrigerated cases were designed and the first full delicatessen was installed in a store in Tallahassee, Florida, ahead of its grand opening on May 27.

Publix Delicatessen

As the years passed, it became more common for both men and women to work outside of the home, which led to more people turning to fast-food and takeout meals to feed their families each night. Publix recognized this as an opportunity to meet our customers’ needs, so we developed equally fast, yet substantial deli fresh-made salads and hot-meal offerings in addition to the cold cuts and variety of cheeses and pickles already on sale. These items could be found in “The Deli” where updated signage was seen beginning in the mid-1970s.

Publix Delicatessen to Deli


Adapting to Changing Demand

Publix strives to serve the needs of all our customers. In the deli that means having options available for individual meals, family meals and entertaining needs.

In the late 1970s, “tailgate” meals began springing up around the country to be enjoyed at sporting events. Publix was inspired by this idea, and in 1979, we debuted four different colorful boxed meals that included chicken, barbecue, sandwiches or cold cuts and cheeses. These boxes have transitioned many times in recent decades but are known today as our family combo meals.


Publix Deli 1970s


Growing our Brand

Publix’s deli products, like subs and fried chicken, made their grand debut in the 1990s, along with another rebrand – “Publix Deli.” The first custom “sub shop” and sandwich menu board was found at store #33 in Marietta, Georgia, in 1992. Our current fried chicken recipe first hit the fryers in Atlanta Division stores in the late 1990s. As you know, both items were eventually rolled out companywide and have become favorites among many of our customers.


Publix Deli 1990s



They say change is inevitable, but one thing that hasn’t changed since the launch of the Publix Deli is excellent customer service and delicious items to choose from! Still known as the Publix Deli, there are countless grab and go items ranging far beyond what you or your parents might remember from 1969 to now. So, if you’re heading to your favorite Publix for dinner tonight (like I probably am), what are you picking up? For me, it’ll be smokehouse offerings, hot and spicy wings or a ready-to-bake pizza — maybe I’ll let my kids decide!

Publix Deli today


Laura A.

Written by

Laura began her career with Publix as a cashier in 2010. After college, she began working at Publix’s corporate offices where she accepted her dream job as company historian in 2019. Laura loves learning and retelling stories about our founder Mr. George, sharing Publix trivia and managing company memorabilia. Outside of work, Laura is an avid reader and Alabama football fan who loves to travel with her family and friends.

11 Comments on “Publix Deli Beginnings

  1. Avatarpam

    I just saw a Facebook post of a picture of a Publix Ice Cream Shoppe. I had never seen one before. The picture looks like the 1950s or 1960s maybe. Has anyone ever seen or visited one of these?

    1. Kaitlynn R.Kaitlynn R.

      Hi Pam! Thanks so much for reaching out to us regarding this photo. Please comment on the photo you saw on Facebook, as our teams would be more than happy to further assist with your inquiry. We appreciate you reaching out to us!

        1. Avatarloganwilliams

          So after reaching out to our Company Historian we were unable to find any information about the Ice Cream Shoppes within our stores. It is likely they were around in the 60s and 70s but we don’t have any record of what stores they were located or anything to that effect. We are sorry that we couldn’t give you any information on them but we appreciate you reaching out.

    1. Kaitlynn R.Kaitlynn R.

      Hi there, Martha. Is there a specific gluten free item you would like to see in the deli? We would be happy to share your request with our Deli team for future consideration.

  2. AvatarDavid

    Seeing those gray shirts with the green and peach trim, brings back memories of bagging back in the mid 90s. Thanks for the memories, we love Publix subs!

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