Bay Ridge butcher closes shop after 43 years

After serving up high quality meats to the Bay Ridge communityfor more than four decades, Richard & Vinnie Prime Meats onThird Avenue near 86th Street is closing its doors for good on July16, due to what owner Vinnie Bolognese describes as an economicdownturn.

About a year and a half ago, the economy went down the tubes,Bolognese recalled. I thought it would come back and it never did.You can’t just keep putting money in and putting money in. The wellhas run dry.

Bolognese claims he lost roughly 35 percent of his businesswithin the last two years, mainly due to the drop-off in peoplepurchasing more expensive cuts.

I can’t even sell a steak, he said with visible frustration.The high-end stuff is tough to sell and the prices keep goingup.

Community organizer and longtime customer Artie Maresca blamesthe rise of the giant supermarket as signifying the end of themom-and-pop shop.

More and more people are shopping at Foodtowns, Maresca said.Bigger places are opening up.

Bay Ridge businessperson Greg Ahl agreed. It’s disappointing tosee some of the best businesses in Bay Ridge disappear, heremarked. Slowly but surely, the mom-and-pop businesses aredisappearing from Bay Ridge because of the rents. It’s tough enoughwhen rents go up at the rate they do, but this economy just makesit twice as tough.

For Bolognese’s grandson Vincent, who has worked at the butchershop for seven years, he feels he is losing a place that has playeda major part in his life. He recalls standing on a milk crate,chopping up meat, when he was only seven years old.

I would always come here when I was younger, he said. [Mygrandfather] would show me around the place. Sometimes I was scaredto go in the back.

According to Vincent, the butcher shop was more than justanother business for neighborhood residents.

It wasn’t just a business, he said. It was a home for manypeople.

And it was also a family business that employed three familygenerations. In addition to his grandson, Bolognese’s son Jamesworked at the shop for more than decade, and that’s only thebeginning.

All of my kids worked here at one time or another, Bolognesesaid. They all went on to bigger and better things.

He agrees with his grandson that his butcher shop grew intosomething more for many in the area.

A lot of people are very depressed, he said regarding the endof Richard & Vinnie Prime Meats. They don’t like it. They seeit as the end of an era. There’s not that many establishments likethis anymore.

Helen Klein contributed reporting to this article.

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