Meaty Question: Are Butcher Shops a Dying Breed?

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Melissa McCart
"This is my life," said Dave Crumbaker of Smitty's Old Fashioned Butcher Shop in Oakland Park. It's where he's worked seven days a week, even when it's closed on Mondays, for the past 30 years. On a recent afternoon, a handful of people browse among the pork bellies, crown roasts, filets, rib eyes, and veal chops in the deli case. A man strides in to talk with Crumbaker. "I've known this guy since I was a kid," he said. "And look,
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Melissa McCart
it's still got sawdust." He points to the floor, where there's a thin layer. Sawdust has been used to prevent slips and for easier cleanup. For most of us, it's nostalgia.
 
Smitty shakes his head when I ask him what he thinks of a New York Times article, "The Lost Art of Buying From a Butcher," from earlier this month. "I disagree with 95 percent of it," he says, citing big grocers and Whole Foods as taking the next generation of his customers.

The article notes there's a butcher revival in New York, Boston, and elsewhere, as home cooks seek cuts of meat they've eaten at restaurants helmed by chefs who embrace nose-to-tail cooking in their restaurants, in their cookbooks, and on cooking TV shows. The revival of the butcher shop is the result of adventure eaters "whose appetites stray beyond steak," writes Florence Fabricant.

At Smitty's, customers aren't in search of adventure. "The Rolls-Royce cuts are what sells," he said. While artisanal butchers may be having a renaissance in bigger cities, Smitty says the interest doesn't exist to the same degree here. He worries over the fate of his shop when he retires, pointing to a guy in the back. "See that guy? He's 28. He's the only one who's even interested. He's the only one I've got."
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Melissa McCart
Smitty's Old Fashioned Butcher Shop
1980 NE 45th St.
Oakland Park
954-771-9341


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