Seven years before Aristides’ hooves beat a winning path in the first Kentucky Derby, construction was starting on a delicatessen and horse stable located at Fifth and Breckenridge. This began the long and interesting history of Cunningham’s Restaurant.
Mr. Melton opened the doors of his delicatessen-grocery in October 1870. Due to poor management, he sold out in 1871 to Dave Oswald (a meat cutter of Melton’s). In 1890, Oswald installed a beer bar, with mammoth mirrors and heavily carved wood supports and reopened as a beer and food establishment.
In 1906, Oswald sold the business to Henry Schultz, who took up residence on the second floor and leased the stable area to his brother Harry, a blacksmith. The Schultz brothers remained here only two years before selling the business to Mr. Joe Insert, a man of questionable integrity. Mr. Insert remained until 1920 when another “shady” character took over. He immediately leased the rooms upstairs to Mary Polly and “sisters” who ran a very profitable “rooming house”.
This lasted two years before the now famous “Cap” Cunningham took the reins, evicted the Polly sisters, and renamed the restaurant “Cunningham’s Delicatessen”. Cap Cunningham’s menus (one of which can be seen on the wall) were quite extensive and extremely reasonable. This is a tradition that remains today.