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Penny Profit | Photo © 2019 Bullet, www.abandonedalabama.com

Penny Profit Meat Market

Location Class:
Built: 1950 | Abandoned: ~2001
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: David Bulit
Screenshot 2019 12 19 Penny Profit Food Store
Julia and Rubin Hanan in front of the Penny Profit holding a photograph of the original building.

The Penny Profit and Discount Meat Market was a small corner market owned by Rubin and Julia Hanan, well-known around Montgomery for their charcoal seasonings. Rubin Morris Hanan emigrated from Greece to the United States in 1925, winding up in Montgomery to pursue an education. He ended up meeting Julia Cohen and the two would be married in 1935 in a traditional Sephardic ceremony. The newlywed couple moved to Atlanta but after their 8-month-old infant daughter died, they moved back to Montgomery to start anew. It was at this time that they opened the Hull Street Market, operating it solely as a butcher shop.

Where the current building now stands was once the site of a small A & P grocery store. A & P was a national chain of grocery stores specializing in tea and coffee, eventually becoming the largest food retailer in the United States in the 1920s. In the late-1930s, A & P began shifting from small corner markets and combination stores to the much larger and more efficient supermarkets. In 1937, A&P opened a new supermarket across from its original location, selling the building to Rubin Hanan. The Hanans struggled to compete with their big-chain neighbor so to differentiate themselves, they invented charcoal seasoning. They became renowned throughout Montgomery for their charcoal-blackened steaks.

Penny Profit | Photo © 2019 Bullet, www.abandonedalabama.com
Inside the Penny Profit which has remained vacant since the early-2000s

In 1950, the old market was replaced with a more modern building which included a freezer and refrigeration units. Renamed the Penny Profit and Discount Meat Market, Rubin and Julia Hanan found great success in the business. Rubin became politically involved, especially with issues involving senior citizens, becoming a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging in 1961 and 1971, and was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to the Advisory Committee for Older Americans in 1965. Julia was renowned for her cooking, eventually publishing a cookbook, “Dulce Siempre,” in 2001.

The Hanans were getting old and Rubin’s health was declining, so a decision was made to sell the business including the charcoal-seasoning recipe they became known for. The business was sold to the Landers family’s patriarch along with a business partner of his. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the two partners split off, and the Penny Profit closed in the early-2000s. Rubin Hanan died in 1996. Julia moved to Birmingham to be with her family where she would pass away in 2005. The building has remained closed since then, sitting across from the long-shuttered A&P supermarket. The original charcoal-seasoning recipe though continues on, sold by the Landers family under the name, “Mis’ Rubin’s Black Magic”.

David Bulit

My name's David Bulit and I'm a photographer, author, and historian from Miami, Florida. I've published a number of books on abandoned and forgotten locales throughout the United States and advocate for preserving these historic landmarks. My work has been featured throughout the world in news outlets such as the Miami New Times, the Florida Times-Union, the Tampa Bay Times, the Orlando Sentinel, NPR, Yahoo News, MSN, the Daily Mail, UK Sun, and many others. You can find more of my work at davidbulit.com as well as amazon.com/author/davidbulit.

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