In 1941, Sol and Ray Lapidus moved to Plainsboro from Brooklyn, New York. They purchased Quaker Stores, located at 515 Plainsboro Road, and turned it into Lapidus Market, the town’s first “Mom and Pop” grocery store. People could buy a variety of goods, including deli meat, hot lunches, agricultural goods, and general household items. There was even a gas station at the front of the property. The Lapidus Family lived above the store, where they raised their sons, Stanley and Harvey.
During the first decade of its operation, the majority of Lapidus Market’s customers were migrant farmworkers from Walker-Gordon. Sunday was the store’s busiest day, as Walker-Gordon paid its employees on the weekends. In addition to being Plainsboro’s first “Mom and Pop” grocery store, it also had the first public telephone and in 1962 was the first store in New Jersey to have gas air conditioning.
In 1973, Sol and Ray retired to Florida, leaving their store to Stanley and his wife, Elsa. Elsa had previously worked in catering, which she added to Lapidus Market’s offerings. She ran the catering operations with her mother, Helen Brueck. The business catered all over New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania, helping the small grocery store survive against the competition of supermarkets.
Lapidus Market slowly shifted toward an emphasis on meat products, through the assistance of Elsa’s father, who was a butcher. Meats were sourced from New York City, Philadelphia and Trenton, and the Lapidus Family advised their customers on how to best cook what they sold.
Stanley and Elsa eventually sold the store to FSES Inc. After the company filed for bankruptcy in 1999, Lapidus Market closed its doors. It later reopened as the Original Steak & Hoagie sandwich shop, which still runs today.