Can a Granddaughter Save a Little Italy Butcher Shop?

Jennifer Prezioso with her grandfather Moe Albanese outside the family butcher shop at 238 Elizabeth St. (Photo by Madelyn Segarra via The Villager)

In 1940, about 17 years after it first opened for business in Little Italy, Albanese Meats and Poultry moved across the street to 238 Elizabeth St. where it remains today. The name is written on faded signage hung above the red storefront and while the sign is a relic from back when “The Godfather Part III” was filmed at the spot, these days the sign, along with the storefront itself, causes passersby to think the butcher shop is closed “just because just because it looks so old. They’re like, ‘Oh it can’t be in business anymore,’” Jennifer Prezioso tells The Villager‘s Gabe Herman.

As the granddaughter of Moe Albanese, 94, who has run the business since the 1950s, and the great-granddaughter of the store’s founders, Jennifer joined her grandfather at the store last fall in hopes of remodeling it and bringing in new customers amid the rent going up and the number of regular customers going down.

The shop used to have the classic butcher look of hanging meats, but Prezioso noted that those would be health violations these days. So she is looking into other objects to fill the store, including some for one-time customers like tourists, such as vintage kitchenware, linens, postcards or prints of Moe.

“They love the experience of the store but there’s nothing for them to get,” she said. “My job now is to try and figure out what would they want. It would be something cool, not cheesy.”

In addition to rent costs and threats of gentrification, a decrease in the number of families and people cooking at home in the neighborhood has made it harder for Albanese Meats to sustain the business.

Still, some of its longtime customers continue to stop by. Go to The Villager to meet a few of them – a 96-year-old who has known Moe since World War II, a friend who “recalled Moe speaking up for him to defuse possible racial tensions on the block,” and a customer who found out their families lived only 20 miles apart in Sicily – and hear more from Jennifer about her plans to keep Albanese Meats running.

One Comment

  1. Yes she will!

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