Historic Tony's Fruit Stand

...Memphis Main and Beale


Tony Bova, an Italian truck farmer, opened a little stand at the corner of Main and Beale in 1905 and it became a Memphis institution.   The stand was the daily stop for those on their way or those hurrying to work - a spot where they could pick up bananas, apples, candy, cigarettes, gum, or sodas.

Tony rented the space for his stand from the owner of the building behind him and the sign above the stand read "Toney's Fruit Stand".  Since he had acquired the sign for free and never bothered to change it says a lot about Tony.  He was steady and on that corner daily during the heat and humidity of Memphis summers, the cold and sleet of the winters, plus the rain throughout the year.  It seemed that all Memphis knew Tony.

Tony Bova died in 1954 and his nephew, Joe Cianciola, took over the business.  Joe had worked at the stand for his uncle since he was 11 years old.   In 1963, a "problem" occurred when the Memphis Health Department notified Joe that the fruit stand was considered a restaurant and therefore needed public restrooms.   Eventually Mayor Henry Loeb intervened and told the Health Department to "back off".  However by 1971 the "urban renewal" of Beale Street finally marked the end of the historic Tony's Fruit Stand.

Joe Cianciola moved to an indoor location at 25 S. Second.  It wasn't the same for him and he wasn't happy at the new location.  He retired in 1987 and the little stand went through several  owners but soon closed for good.  The original Beale Street location is now the site of Tri-State Bank.


 Click on small photos to enlarge them. 


Tony's Fruit Stand - 1959

Joe Cianciola at the Fruit Stand
Tony's Fruit Stand - 1968 Joe Cianciola at the Fruit Stand
Today:  The location of Tony's Fruit Stand



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