Joel Dean, a publishing executive at Simon & Schuster, and Giorgio DeLuca, a history teacher turned SoHo cheesemonger, opened the first Dean & DeLuca gourmet grocer in 1977 at a 2600sf SoHo storefront. In this age of FoodTV and Emeril bamming everthing, opening a gourmet food store in Manhattan may seem like a no-brainer, but in the late 1970s, SoHo was pretty rough around the edges, and the average consumer didn't know and didn't care about things like sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil. Fortunately, Dean and DeLuca cared enough to travel the world to bring back epicurean treasures which would eventually become standard fare at grocers across America.
The affluence of the 1980s gave a significant boost to Dean & DeLuca, enabling them to relocate to a 10000sf space at the corner of Broadway and Prince in 1988, artfully designed by co-founder Jack Ceglic, who also designed the original store. Quadrupling their floor space gave Dean & DeLuca the opportunity to offer a dizzying variety of gourmet foods and ingredients, from cheeses, meats, and produce to spices, condiments, and kitchenware. The flagship store quickly became one of the top tourist destinations in now-trendy SoHo. Continued success expanded the business into Washington, DC, Napa Valley, Kansas City, KS, Charlotte, NC, and ultimately the World Wide Web.
In addition to in-store, catalog, and website sales, Dean & DeLuca also sells dried teas, herbs, and spices in many gourmet grocers.