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Meat the Neighbors! Dueling Butchers Find Harmony on Williamsburg Block

By Gwynne Hogan | March 10, 2016 2:49pm
 Butcher shop The Meat Hook opened across the street from Model T Meats Corp that's been on Graham Avenue since 1935.
Butchers Williamsburg
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WILLIAMSBURG — It's a tale of two butchers.

A butcher specializing in pasture-raised meats recently opened its doors across the street from an old-school Italian butcher shop that's been on the corner of Graham Avenue and Jackson Street since 1935.

But there's no animosity or competition between the two.

"He's got more specialty things," said Louis Ferrandino, 73, who's worked in what was formerly his father's butcher shop Model T Meats Corporation at 404 Graham Ave. since the 1960's. 

"Me, I'm just cutting up stuff. If you want to eat [it] you eat [it]," said Ferrandino, who said most of his clients he's known for decades and are mainly "housewives."

"They're downtrodden," he jokes. 

Meanwhile across the street, butcher Ben Turley, co-owner of The Meat Hook that opened at 397 Graham Ave. in late February, said his clients are mainly young families and he happily refers people to Model T Meats.

"[For] people who don't really care about pasture-raised [meat] or the price is off-putting," he said, he sends them to Model T's. The Meat Hook doesn't stock veal and Model T's does. 

"'Oh, you can go across the street,'" he said.

The prices at The Meat Hook, pretty much across the board, are double what they are at Model T Meats, which peddles products "from all over," according to Joe Ferrandino, Louis' brother who also helps run the shop.

T-bone steak that sells for $10.95 a pound at Model T Meats will cost you $21.99 at the Meat Hook. Boneless rib steak costs $11.95 at Model T Meats and $24.99 at the Meat Hook. New York strip steak will cost you $8.99 at Model T Meats and $21.99 at The Meat Hook. 

On Thursday morning, a curious client buying a hunk of chicken at The Meat Hook wanted to know, "How is the other butcher feeling?"

"He could care less," Brent Young, a co-owner at The Meat Hook replied. "Those guys have been around forever, they have a completely different clientele."

"It's funny that most neighborhoods don't have a butcher shop and we have three," said Young, pointing out Model T Meats as well as well as Emily's Pork Store a block and half north on Graham that's also been around for decades.

Young and Turley first opened The Meat Hook on Meeker Avenue nearby in 2009 and since opened a sandwich shop at 495 Lorimer St.

They were looking to expand the butcher shop, which boasts all pasture-fed meat mostly from New York state and specialty items like duck confit, pork terrene, cheese and veggies, and couldn't at their former location, Turley said.

"This is much better," Turley said. "[It] feels like we're more a part of the neighborhood."

Turley and and Young introduced themselves to the Ferrandino brothers when they opened up and have had cordial relations since. And the Ferrandino's insist there's plenty of business to go around.

"If you know what you're doing you'll survive," said Joe Ferrandino, 53, who said he wished the new butchers on the block well. "I hope they make it."