Shapiro’s Heir Tweaks Tradition at Fashion Mall

Brian Shapiro never figured on a life of corned beef and rye. The New Castle native, who grew up stocking the shelves in his father’s Central Indiana grocery stores, enrolled at IU’s School of Law, hoping to be an international tax lawyer. But when his great-uncle Max, longtime proprietor of the legendary Shapiro’s Delicatessen on South Meridian, called in early 1984, just a few months before he passed away, Shapiro quickly became heir apparent to childless Max’s landmark Jewish deli. Shapiro was no stranger to the restaurant, having helped out over the holidays and summers, but at the time, he had little idea of the changes he would eventually usher in. “We didn’t serve chicken salad back then,” Shapiro recalls. “We didn’t even grill the Reubens.” This winter, he opened a satellite location in the onetime home of Dalts American Grill at The Fashion Mall. At just around 4,200 square feet, a third of the size of the downtown deli, the new space has a smaller, more contemporary menu featuring trademarked “Twisted Traditions” such as a rare roast beef sandwich topped with arugula. One tradition Shapiro won’t compromise on is keeping customers well-fed: “Food is a universal language. Fill someone’s belly, and they’re more likely to be your friend.”

Brian Shapiro’s Favorite Things

(1) Ice cream: “I loved Howard Johnson’s banana and black-raspberry flavors. But coffee is a favorite, too.”
(2) Leelanau County, Michigan: “We own a home in the woods.”
(3) Mama Irma Restaurant: “I admire how the owner [Hilda Cano] is teaching customers about her native heritage—just like my grandparents did at Shapiro’s.”
(4) The Internet: “I keep reading until I reach the end of what’s out there. I’m one of those kind of guys.”


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.