The store opened on December 20, 1930, and remained open as an A&P for a remarkable 77 years thereafter, until the company sold off its 21-store New Orleans operation in September 2007. Happily, it continues on as a grocery store, part of the locally-owned Rouse’s chain.
It’s almost beside the point to discuss the store’s architecture. From the start, it has blended in seamlessly with the other French Creole-styled buildings (and their intricate balcony ironwork) that predominate the French Quarter. This photograph was taken around 1970, near the midpoint of the store’s existence as an A&P, and shows a much lighter color scheme than many would remember. More familiar are the darker walls and black-painted ironwork the store has sported in recent years. Its undeniably charming appearance has made the store a very popular artist’s motif.
Recently, a commenter on this site likened the Royal St. A&P to a convenience store, and I agree with that description. Because of the store’s urban location and small size, it filled a different role than the typical late-20th century A&P supermarket. Indeed, whenever A&P ran a larger promotion or giveaway in the New Orleans market, they frequently included the disclaimer “all stores except 701 Royal St.”, presumably due to a combination of the lack of space and the higher selling prices attainable in that vibrant tourist district.
Below is a full page Times-Picayune ad from the Royal St. store’s opening day, which merited a fairly cursory mention in the lower left corner of the page. Also of note is A&P’s defense of its area bread pricing, an early skirmish in A&P’s long conflict with the antitrust regulators. Oh, and 8 foot tall Christmas trees for 89 cents!
One last item - since we’re on the subject of A&P in New Orleans, here’s another area store of more modern design, shown shortly after its opening in another A&P publicity shot, from 1968. Featuring a nice contemporary look, this store was highlighted in the 1970 A&P Study by Progressive Grocer magazine.
Note: Thanks to Scott for pointing out an error and supplying some additional information regarding the location of the store pictured below. This store is actually in New Orleans' Garden District, not the French Quarter as previously stated, and still stands at 3233 Magazine Street. The store is now a Breaux Mart, another locally owned chain. Rouse's, who bought most of A&P's area stores, passed on this one owing to its small size.