1012-1014 Lady Street
Original Sites of Rivkin's Grocery & Delicatessen
Jacob Rivkin (1876-1962), a Russian Jewish immigrant who arrived in the United States with his family in 1906, opened Rivkin’s Grocery at 1012 Lady Street in 1912. Located in the heart of the Jewish neighborhood in Columbia and only one block from the Orthodox/Conservative House of Peace Synagogue, Rivkin’s Grocery sold general grocery products the area's working-class clientele that included immigrants and African Americans, as well as kosher goods for the Jewish community. Jacob’s wife, Tama (1874-1938), and his three sons—Raphael (1899-1987), Caba (1904-1995), and Lewis (1907-2002)—all helped operate the grocery store.
Members of the Rivkin family wedding party, posed for an unidentified photographer in 1920. Front row, L to R: Lewis Rivkin (1907 - 2002), his father, Jacob (1876 - 1962), and grandfather Avram (1853 - 1920); bride Rachel Winter (1902 - 1984). Back row, L to R: Tamara Rivkin (1874 - 1938) and daughter, Sarah (1910 - 1994); Caba Earle Rivkin, flanked by twins, Bessie (1893 - 1971) and Celia (1893 - 1978) ; groom, Raphael Rivkin (1899 - 1987). The entire family immigrated from Russia more than a decade earlier, with the exception of Lewis, who was born in the United States after the family's arrival in 1907. Caba's daughter, Harriett, later recalled that her grandparents, Jacob and Tama, were devout members of the House of Peace Synagogue at 1318 Park Street and ran a farm outside of town that provided milk to fellow Jews.
Rivkin’s Grocery eventually expanded to multiple locations including 1000 Gates (now Park) Street in 1919 and 2201 Calhoun Street in 1926. Caba Rivkin took over operation of the stores in the late-1920s, and by 1931 opened the first Jewish delicatessen in Columbia, SC when he purchased the lot next to the Lady Street store and expanded the building. The original deli location served kosher imported meats and other favorites, including homemade dill pickles. In 1939, Caba expanded the deli business further by opening a second location of Rivkin’s Deli in Columbia’s historic Five Points neighborhood at 619 Harden Street. At that location, Caba stopped focusing on the sale of kosher goods and instead changed the deli’s menu to appeal to his wider, non-Jewish customer base.
Site of Groucho's Deli
By 1941, Caba Rivkin sold his two deli locations to Harold “Groucho” Miller, a Jewish transplant from Philadelphia, who went on to build the now-franchised deli chain, Groucho’s Deli. Today, Groucho’s Deli in Five Points is the only extant building that previously housed a Rivkin’s business, all other buildings of Rivkin’s Grocery or Delicatessen have since been demolished due to Columbia’s Urban Renewal campaign.
Here, Groucho poses with his wife and relatives during the opening of Miller's Delicatessen on Lady Street in 1940. John Gottlieb was Harold's brother-in-law and helped him establish the business. Miller's Russian Blintzes, which appeared on the menu for a short time, can be seen in the case.