In 1977, Dean & Deluca opened their first flagship store in New York's SoHo neighborhood. The store was designed by founding partner Jack Ceglic to "evoke a turn of the century food department." Since then, the SoHo store has expanded and additional locations have opened across the country and the world, but that original intent is still very visible — Dean & Deluca feels like an emporium you might have visited at the World's Fair, circa 1900.It's all about the DISPLAYS. Designer cakes and cookies are artfully arranged behind glass counters, oysters are casually shown off on beds of ice, and rows and rows of chocolates decorate the candy counters. The prices are high, but what you'd expect for specialty brands. The bakery stocks breakfast rolls from Balthazar and Annie's cookies; the cheese department carries a wide variety of European imports next to artisanal cheeses from local farmers; and the seafood counter stocks a small but diverse selection of whatever's in season — including the occassional exotic item like razor clams or rare caviars.
Dean & Deluca is now a large chain, with 14 retail stores across the country (in New York, Washington, D.C., Napa Valley, Charlotte, and the Kansas City metro area). They also have a number of international cafés in far-flung places like Dubai, Taipei, and Kuwait. Their online inventory is extensive, and worth checking out if you're looking for a fancy gift.