Advertising pieces for one business can lead to other related businesses. This is the case with two items in the collection of the Fenton History Center. A wooden spoon and a matching wooden fork, of a size that could be used for serving salads, are stamped on the back of the handles with the message: “Buy With Confidence At The Home of Fine Foods, Nellie and Gust Levan’s, 519 W. Third St. Opposite the A & P”
So who were Nellie and Gust Levan and when did they have a business at 519 W. Third Street in Jamestown? The donor of these items said they had been found in a cottage they purchased about 30 years ago. The city directories have listing for that address with a business named Levan’s from 1950 to 1957-58 with Gust and Nellie Levan as the proprietors. The next listing in 1958-59 is still Levan’s but with Edw. Schuyler as the proprietor. That gives us a time period for Nellie and Gust’s business at that address and gives a time span during which our fork and spoon were available, either for sale or as a giveaway.
Along with that listing is the added information that it is “Jamestown’s Oldest Catering Service for Buffet Luncheons (Smorgasbord) and Private Parties of All Sizes.” Before 1950 the Levan family had a meat market and delicatessen located at 218 West Third Street. But the story goes back to 1904 when Swedish immigrants, John Victor and Alma (Nelson) Levan opened a sausage manufacturing plant and delicatessen on Newland Avenue. Their success moved them to larger quarters in the City Market in Brooklyn Square in 1906. Their business prospered and in 1930 the move to 218 West Third Street was made, again to have larger quarters. Levan’s had become known as one of the best meat markets and delicatessens in the vicinity. They carried many unusual and rare delicacies and had a fine line of meats. Their homemade food delicacies were known as some of the best.
J. Victor Levan died in 1935. Alma continued to run the business with the help of her sons, Gust and Herb. In 1938, she retired and sold the business to her son and daughter-in-law, Gust and Nellie (Lumia) Levan. Alma then opened Levan’s Tea Room which became a popular place for small meetings, bridal showers, and wedding receptions, as well as, one of the finest dining places in the area. It was located at 9 Falconer Street, which later was the Sheldon House. By 1942 Levan’s Tea Room had moved to 15 East 5th Street. By 1944 it was managed by others and by 1948 the American Legion occupied that address and Levan’s Tea Room was no more. That address is now the law offices of Burgett and Robbins.
Gust and Nellie continued the catering and meat market businesses and by 1950 made the move to the advertised address of 519 West Third Street. In the 1960 city directory, that address had Schuyler’s Catering Service and Gust and Nellie apparently had left the area as there are no listings in the city directory for them. Levan’s is a familiar name to many people of Swedish heritage in this area. If they are not old enough to have patronized the Levan’s businesses, they have heard the name from their parents or grandparents. Whether it was the meat market, the stand in the City Market, the catering service or the Tea Room people continue to remember Levan’s. Even today when I mentioned Levan’s someone said that their parents had had their wedding there. He was glad to have the location confirmed as the Sheldon House because they had recognized the Sheldon House in the family pictures they had but the pictures were labeled as Levan’s.