Jan. 2, 2019 By Nathaly Pesantez
The Ottomanelli butcher shop on Woodside Avenue, a neighborhood institution for nearly 60 years, has recently closed and consolidated operations with the affiliated burger restaurant location one block over.
The 61-05 Woodside Ave. shop, known as Ottomanelli’s Prime Meat and Wild Game, broke the news on New Year’s Day of its new location inside F. Ottomanelli’s Burger and Belgian Fries, the popular restaurant at 60-15 Woodside Ave.
While the closing marks the end of an era for the butcher shop’s longtime home, the move was actually made to keep up with ever-growing business demands, said Frank Ottomanelli, who runs the butcher shop and restaurant with his brother, Michael.
Frank, 50, said business is strong, and that processing and delivering meats from an increasing number of online orders called for a larger place to locate operations—the basement of the restaurant.
“It’s easily double the room,” Frank said. He noted that orders go out to places like Jackson Heights, Long Island City, Brooklyn and even Manhattan.
“Everyone is ordering online,” he said, later quipping, “We’re evolving according to millennials.”
The idea for the switch came about a year ago, with the last couple of months, when orders “mushroomed,” demonstrating the need to change gears.
The brothers soon began working on bringing the basement up to code, including installing stainless steel surfaces and bringing freezers in for the storage, packaging and delivery operations.
Customers looking to purchase meats in person still have the option of doing so, with a small butcher shop offering items like flank steak, veal chops, lamb shoulder, and bacon set up in the restaurant floor itself.
Consolidating the businesses also solves an issue some customers have raised in the past over the operating hours of the butcher shop, which used to close at 6 p.m.
“A lot of people were always complaining that by the time they got here it closed,” Frank said. “Now we’re open until 8—9 p.m.”
The Ottomanellis are also set to introduce a new service soon in the restaurant, where patrons will be able to select a steak from the butcher shop and have it cooked on site to enjoy in-house. New side dishes like creamed spinach, sautéed mushrooms, baked potatoes and broccoli will also be available to pair with the cut, along with wines from a select list.
The one-stop-shop debut on New Years Day also marked the seven-year anniversary of the F. Ottomanelli Burgers & Belgian Fries restaurant.
Ottomanelli’s Prime Meat and Wild Game has a 59-year history in Woodside, with the family’s business going back further than that to the turn of the 20th century.
Gennaro Ottomanelli, Frank’s grandfather, first sold meats in lower Manhattan from a push cart in the 1900s after emigrating from Bari in Italy. He and his sons eventually began opening butcher shops through other locations in the borough that still continue to this day, with Salvatore, Frank’s father, stumbling upon a butcher shop for sale in Woodside in 1960 while looking for homes.
Rather than purchase the shop from then-owner Gino Lucon, Salvatore decided to partner with him, thus marking the start of longstanding Ottomanelli butcher shop on the avenue.
Frank said the shop’s closing, despite its long history, is simply the next logical step in the business’ trajectory, with the response from customers overwhelmingly positive so far.
“We evolved into it,” he said. “We are developing further by doing this.”
He underscored that the business still calls Woodside home.
“We didn’t leave the neighborhood,” Frank said. “We always want to be part of Woodside.”