Monday, June 12, 2017

Nathan's Sandwich Shop

Nathan's Bar and Sandwich Shop was located in a sturdy brick building in the middle of the block on Gibson Street, halfway between North New Hampshire and Columbia Street. It was a location right on the corner of Courthouse Alley, the center of all the action in the young Covington community. It was a favorite spot for many Covington folks, both young and old. 

Nathan’s Sandwich Shop was owned and operated by Emily “Tete” Pellegrin Sharp and her husband Nathan Sharp. They opened the establishment in 1957 first as a bar, then transitioned to a pool hall and eventually an eatery. The original menu for the landmark business included ham sandwiches, ten-cent hamburgers, and fried oysters.

Over the years Nathan’s gained the reputation of having the best po-boys in the area.  

Nathan Sharp drawing a beer

Nathan was at one time a police juror as well as a Covington city council member. He died in 1983, and his wife Emily continued to run the sandwich shop until 1996 when she retired and it was closed, much to the disappointment of decades of customers.She died a year later in July of 1997.

Emily Sharp worked nearly 40 years at Nathan's Sandwich Shop.

This picture was taken on Nathan’s last day of business in December of 1996. From left are Sondra Johnson, Vic Johnson, Mrs. Sharp, Sally Johnson, Molly Johnson, Dick Johnson, Miss Beverly and Jason Johnson in the back. The photo was postsed to Facebook by Sondra Meiners Johnson.

In the Facebook comments that accompanied the photo, folks were saying the following:

The very best Oyster Poboy on the planet!
Best food ever !! Love the little jukeboxes at all the tables/booths .
The pinball machine
Everyone knew where Nathan’s was. Loved going there to get a hamburger on Friday nights. 
They were the best !!
 Walked from the Star Theater on weekends and summers ro get a ham and cheese. Loved it.

The building currently houses the Mattina Bella restaurant.

Below is the Sanborn building map of the area in the year 1954. The Star Theater is the blue building in the top left corner, and the arrow points to Nathan's Bar and Grill. Click on the image to make it larger. 

The brick building housing Nathan's was built in 1935 for a new Bar and Cafe called "Charlie's." Here is the news article in the June 7th, 1935, edition of the St. Tammany Farmer telling about the new establishment. 

The advertisement below was from the same issue to promote the new bar and cafe. Click on the image to make it larger. 

This photo shows the original "Charlie's Bar and Cafe" housed in the building.

Six years after the cafe opening in 1935 came this 1941 Sanborn map, showing the building (red) as being next to the "Gibson Hotel."

The construction of the brick building was started in February of 1935, as indicated by this article in the St. Tammany Farmer newspaper. 

Going back even earlier, the map shown below is from 1927, seven years prior to the construction of the red brick building where Charlie's (and later Nathan's) would be located (shown in yellow). To the west on the corner is a Garage and Repairs business with a capacity of 70 cars. This was before the Star Theater was built.  

Finally, going all the way back to a map published in 1904, we find a different building in that location. But what a location it was, right in front of the train tracks that brought hundreds of visitors to Covington every weekend. The Rubion Hotel was situated next door, across the street was the Patrick Hotel, and on the corner to the west, there was now the Stroble and Warren Livery Stable. Halfway down the block on New Hampshire was an Oyster Sal., and halfway down the block on Columbia was a drug store. As far as locations went, it was the perfect place, front and center for all the goings on, a block north of the parish courthouse and in-between the two busiest streets in downtown Covington. 

An early 1900's view looking east on Gibson Street from New Hampshire Street. The Patrick Hotel is on the left, with the porch roof of the train station also on the left. On the right is the Rubion Hotel and, closer to the camera, the location where Charlie's, Nathan's, Judice's, and now the Mattina Bella restaurant would be situated in the years to come. 

Judice's Restaurant Ribbon Cutting

Thanks goes to Jack Terry for providing the Sanborn maps used in this blog entry.  
Photo restoration and tinting by Ron Barthet.