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Atlas, Un-Shrugged

If you’ve spent the last decade pining for Atlas Supermarket’s famous Chicken Salad Veronica or Grandma’s potato salad with plenty of crunchy bits of celery and sweet pickles, then you might not know they’ve been lurking in one form or another in Carmel all the while. Now you can buy selected favorites, including hummus and tabouli, on Saturday mornings at the Broad Ripple Farmers Market, as well as at the Fishers and Binford Farmers Markets.
Allyson Milender, who grew up working at Atlas with her mother Debbie Davis, affectionately known to customers as “The Sticker Lady,” has been making many of the deli favorites that she had a hand in concocting at her Northside catering company, Happy Everything Catering (1342 S. Rangeline Rd., Carmel, 848-2744), since 2001. She and her husband Clay briefly turned their business into a storefront deli in 2005 but closed it in 2007 as parenthood and the demand for catering jobs began to take over. But customers clamored for them to offer up those deli salads, and they’ve been selling them at the Fishers Farmers Market for several years now.
Finally, after a five-year wait, the couple got a spot at the Broad Ripple Market, and they’ve been offering a selection of six to eight deli sides and salads since early May. Atlas fans can check out their weekly menus, as well as live feeds from the markets, on Facebook. The great niece of Sid and Elaine Maurer, who ran the Atlas until Sid’s death in 2000 and the store’s closing in 2002, Milender says the response to her keeping the Atlas tradition alive has been overwhelming. Definitely her most popular catering item is Atlas’ famous beef tenderloin, which she offers in elegant platters, alongside artful fruit and cheese plates.
The name of her catering company comes from an in-store joke about how to greet each other during the holidays with a staff from so many different religions and cultures. “Happy Everything” is what they finally landed on. “We’ve had former customers drive all the way from New Albany or Bedford to get chicken salad or hummus,” Milender states with a sense of amazement and pride. “What we’re doing is providing a little window to look through to remember Atlas.”  

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.
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