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Nelkin Packing Company

Morris Nelkin immigrated from a shtetl in Nowy Dwor, Poland in the 1920's. He made his way to Texas in 1932, and sold beef from the trunk of his car. He worked for his sister and brother-in-law, who owned a small cattle and dairy farm near Brookshire. His talent for salesmanship, desire for independence, and loyalty of his customers compelled Mr.Nelkin to found the Nelkin Packing Company, opening the establishment in early 1935 at the location of the former Magnolia Ballroom at 104 Mliam Street. His clients included Weingarten's, A&P, Rice Food Markets, Jamail Bros., and 70% of Houston's independent 'mom and pop' Chinese, Italian, Mexican, and Jewish grocers and restaurants.

When the rains of the Great Houston Flood of 1935 caused Buffalo Bayou to overflow its banks, the packing house's offices, ceiling rails, scales, and loading docks were inundated as the entire building was covered up to its roof. The roiling waters flooded the thick-walled meat storage cooler, which was originally built for the brewery, and ruined the entire inventory of sides of beef. As with many other businesses affected by the flood, Mr. Nelkin, along with his partners Maurice Caplan and August Emil Nitschman, rebuilt the packing house and continued to operate at the same location until 1955. Nelkin Packing Company relocated North of downtown Houston to 1300 Acuff at Dart streets until the land was purchased by the State of Texas to build Interstate Highway 45. The company then moved to Airline Farmers Market and added clients including restaurants such as Triple A, the famous Kelley's steakhouse, Someburger, and Jack-In-The-Box and continued to operate in that location until 1970.

 

The Nelkin Packing Company meat cooler was originally built to store the products of the Magnolia Brewery. Pictured below are partners August Nitschman, Maurice Caplan, Morris Nelkin (in the three-piece suit) and another unidentified person.

 

 
Magnolia Ballroom | 715 Franklin St, Houston, TX 77002 | 713-223-8508