Monday, September 7, 2009

Publix - The Palm Beach Story

At the beginning of the 70’s, Publix had nearly 60 stores in its burgeoning Southeast Coast (Miami and surrounding counties) division, but none in oh-so exclusive Palm Beach, where retailers were only allowed to locate “by invitation”. When that invitation finally came in 1971, Publix rose to the occasion with a superb Spanish Rococo design, shown here in a photo taken shortly after opening, in lieu of their standard architecture. The store’s landscaping, according to Pat Watters’ book “Fifty Years of Pleasure”, was provided by “ladies of a local garden club”. An impressive early example of a style Publix would employ much more in the future, this store still stands at 265 Sunset Avenue in Palm Beach.

The grand opening was appropriate for the area’s storied clientele – engraved invitations were sent out to local residents, and as Watters noted, “Rolls Royces abounded in the parking lot when the Publix door was opened with stately ceremony”. Another story in the Watters book from that day involved a woman and her maid inspecting a “pre-wrapped” filet mignon. After deciding the filet met their standards, they proceeded to order 120 of them (which Publix dutifully delivered) for “a few people” they were having over that evening. All in all, it must have fit the definition of a “gala” grand opening better than most.

Hope they remembered to stock up on Grey Poupon!


  1. It's hard to imagine a store more suitable for tony Palm Beach than this store. The simple Publix script font even fits the era well, though it seems somewhat plain other than the companies signature green color.

    I imagine the interior was similar to the first Publix interior posted in this series and received alterations over the decades since opening.

  2. There is an almost identical store to this on Clearwater Beach. Has modern signage now, but only as of recent.

  3. Few places I have been to have left the impression on me as Palm Beach. Publix seems like a natural fit for this area. I'm surprised it took ethem so long to get "invited".

  4. I worked at a Publix in Broward County of a similar design, complete with Cornucopia tile mural on the wall outside and Spanish-style arches. It was located in Inverrary, which was a country club-style community. The Publix was located by Rock Island Road and Oakland Park Blvd., but was torn down a few years ago. It must've been built around this same time. By the mid-1980s it had already gone downhill, as did the neighborhood around it.

  5. Nice store. I like the understated signage, with the beautiful blue. They make it look fun to spend money!

  6. Nothing much too add, except love this blog! A chronicle vintage retail experience is truly a worth cause.

  7. Hope they remembered to stock up on Grey Poupon!

    LOL! In their Rolls Royces I presume because Bentlys are for losers who can't afford them?

    I love the look and style of the store. Any idea whether the Palm Beach one is still standing?

  8. I miss this Publix now that I no longer live on PB or sadly in Publix territory. I always preferred the more subtle font here than the standard more jubilant Publix logo. This store was a bit smaller than the other one is in WPB that I also would shop at.

  9. Ken - I agree - the phrase "understated elegance" can be overused, I guess, but it is very appropriate in this case. The interior was likely similar to the first interior shot posted, but I haven't seen any details. If they upgraded the interior accordingly, that would have been one phenomenal store!

    Jack - I really like the signage, and per the most recent Windows Live Local view (now called "Bing Maps" - I can't get used to calling it that!), it looks like the original lettering is still in place!

    Danny - We have family in West Palm Beach, and I've been there several times over the years, but I've only been to Palm Beach once. It's a world all in itself. I could definitely get used to it, but it's a bit out of my price range!

    Dexter - I can see why they would have wanted to buid other stores in this style, it's certainly very appealing. Thanks for the info on the Inverrary store.

    Otto - That's for sure!

    Gilligan - Thanks very much, amd I'm just beginning to take a look around your site - ultra cool!

    Didi - Of course, Bentley drivers are my kind of losers!

    Jeff - I prefer the more subtle font as well. As mentioned above, the latest photo I've seen shows it's still in place. Kudos to Publix for resisting the temptation to put something flashier in its place.

  10. "Publix seeks to raze, rebuild bigger Palm Beach store":


  11. Anonymous - Thanks for the tip on this store's planned replacement - I agree that's a shame. I guess it's a fortunate thing that this store was allowed to exist in its original form for so long, though.

  12. This store was demolished and a new even more fabulous Mediterranean Revival/Mizner style store was constructed in its place. The new store opened in December, 2011. The architectural detail on the visible facades is quite authentic and the signage is understated (e.g. the wall signs are not illuminated, but rather inscribed in the facade). Here's a link to an article about the new store: