Henri’s Bakery & Deli in Buckhead has lasted for 90 years for three simple reasons.
“I think it all starts with a quality product,” said President Anthony DiNardo, the great-grandson of its founder, Henri Fiscus. “I think over the years, being able to maintain the quality has been really important. I think they’ve done a good job of that from generation to generation. (Second), trying to provide great service is something we’re constantly trying to improve. …
“Finally, the biggest thing, part of our mission statement, is inspiring community. I think one of the neatest things about this place is it’s mutigenerational. The environment we try to create is (one) where generations of families can come in and spend time with each other.”
Madeline Leonard, a former co-owner, Fiscus’ granddaughter and DiNardo’s nephew, and Store Manager Javier Mendez agreed.
“Keeping the recipes, I think, from the original (location is crucial). … People from 50 years back will say, ‘Oh, the sandwich is still feeling and tasting the same way as when I was little,” said Mendez, who has worked at Henri’s for 24 years, all at the Buckhead location.
Fiscus, who was born in France, moved to the United States in 1921. He worked at restaurants in New York and Rhode Island before coming to Atlanta and working as the first pastry chef at the Biltmore Hotel in Midtown.
Henri’s originally had only one location, opening in 1929 at the corner of 10th and Peachtree streets in Midtown. It moved to different spots over the years, landing in Buckhead on Irby Avenue in 1967 and relocating down the street to East Andrews Drive two years ago. Another location in the 999 Peachtree building on 10th Street in Midtown was open for about five years but closed years ago.
The Sandy Springs location opened in 1984 and the west Midtown one opened in 2017. DiNardo bought the business from Leonard and her four siblings – Suzette DiNardo, Ray Bell, Michelle Teilharbor and Mimi Veerkamp – in 2016. Leonard and DiNardo’s mother (Suzette) and sisters (Kim Macbain and Ashlyn DiNardo) still work at Henri’s.
All three locations celebrated the anniversary Sept. 28 with 90-cent po’ boy sandwiches. Though that event was the main one honoring the milestone, DiNardo said Henri’s plans to do more deals or promotions and even a drawing through its social media channels in the coming months.
As a pastry chef, Fiscus was skilled in creating special desserts.
“He made chocolate Easter eggs and penned the most gorgeous, old English writing, and nobody ever wrote on eggs like that,” Leonard said. “He brought something to Atlanta that we didn’t have. He built a great reputation and brought a lot of fine things that people would see. He did a lot of catering back then. He did Easter eggs for (President John F.) Kennedy. He did the little White House in sugar cubes. Everybody loved him.”
Said DiNardo, “I didn’t know when he originally started, that candy was such a big part of the business. He loved to make chocolate candies, and when he originally started doing the bakery, they were doing a lot of that. I was unaware that was part of the business at one time. It eventually evolved as they moved. It’s more of a traditional bakery, and they added the sandwiches.
“I also didn’t know they only made pre-made sandwiches up until, I think, the late ’80s, if I’m not mistaken. You could only get a premade (sandwich before then). There was no custom deli line. I guess as the business changed, as customers changed and their wants changed, they went into more of a full line deli with made-to-order sandwiches.”
Henri’s employees and leaders reflected on its anniversary.
“I think it’s a testament to everybody that’s come way before me, that they’ve been able to sustain a level of excellence for that period,” DiNardo said. “So I think to me personally, it’s an inspiration to try to continue that legacy forward.
“It’s something that as I make small tweaks to the business and as we have to make changes because of customer demand and things like that, at the end of the day, those three things I mentioned earlier are always in the forefront, and we stay true to those things moving forward. Hopefully we can be here another 90 years.”
Said Leonard, “I’m really proud of it. I think that what my grandfather founded was just an incredible business. We’ve been able to continue the business, and it makes me really happy that Anthony has continued the legacy and tradition.”
Mendez added, “It means a lot. This bakery is a family business, for four different generations. … For me it’s part of my family, (working) here with them.”
Laura Childers, who stopped for lunch at the Buckhead location while the Neighbor was there, said she’s been coming to Henri’s for at least 10 years.
“Their pastries are amazing and my kids love coming here for that, but I think it’s just a classic sandwich shop,” she said. “It’s always good, they have great service and, since the (2017 move), it’s just a good setup, indoor and outdoor, a nice place. It feels like a bistro to bring your family or to just grab a quick bite. And it’s fast.”
Childers called the anniversary “amazing.”
“I didn’t even know it’s been around that long, but I love supporting local businesses,” she said. “I think it’s really great they’re still going so strong.”