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Meat market may move, expand soon

George's is the quintessential mom-and-pop neighborhood store.

By PAUL SWIDER, Times Staff Writer
Published September 30, 2007


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ST. PETERSBURG- In the era of the big-box retail store, one family-owned neighborhood business is not just alive but expanding.

"We're trying to grow to meet the demands of today's generation," said Nicholas "Larry" Mevoli, who runs George's Meat Market, a 36-year-old store at 4611 Haines Road.

Mevoli and his parents have had the business in the same location since the family moved from Camden, N.J.

But as the business climate has changed and George's named for the previous owner has adapted, it's outgrown the 1,800-square-foot block building on what was once a major road.

"Haines used to be the main road to Clearwater," said Mevoli, who is looking for bigger digs while selling his existing store. "Now people get lost trying to get here."

Mevoli said the site was home to a country store from the 1930s on when the surrounding area was still orange groves. Now, Haines is broken up by I-275 and has become a residential shortcut for those few who know how to navigate it.

Mevoli is trying to find a larger space on either Fourth Street N or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. He said he's done all the reconfiguration he can on the 1975 building.

"My parents weren't thinking to grow this back then," he said.

Started as a transplant of the family's butcher shop, George's has now become more of a gourmet center.

Mevoli still sells meat cut to individual specifications, but he has branched into a variety of pre-cooked or ready-to-cook dishes made from the family recipe book.

"When the bigger stores started moving in, we looked at different things but tried to stay in our niche," said Mevoli, 58.

"Everyone's so much into fast foods, but we try to give them food fast but homemade."

Mevoli said he grew up in the business and was cutting meat from the time he was tall enough to reach a slicer. He said he gets fewer requests for specific cuts now because today's shoppers are used to prepackaged products, not the custom service of a neighborhood store. He often gets questions about how to cook certain cuts or meats.

But lately, the popularity of cooking shows and increasing awareness of healthy eating has pushed customers to be more particular about what they buy, he said.

George's, which also runs a catering service, is now serving people concerned about the quality of what they give their families.

"We had lost that family contact of people always cooking for themselves," he said, "but people are getting re-interested in it."

Mevoli said he will likely wait to move until he has a contract for his existing store, but might move sooner if he finds the right location. He is asking $390,000 for his store.

Paul Swider can be reached at pswider@sptimes.com or 892-2271.

Fast Facts:

George's Meat Market

Where: 4611 Haines Road

Information: 525-4600

[Last modified September 30, 2007, 01:11:41]


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