|Reading Terminal Market butcher in 1940s.Photo credit: Philadelphia Record Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania
|Higher-priced offerings at Halteman's
Today, four fresh meat purveyors remain, but at least one will be expanding and a Halal butcher is expected join the competition in coming months.
Brothers Jake and Samuel Riehl, who took over Halteman's after Lester's retirement, will be expanding their offerings and physical presence this spring, adding their own beef aging facility. Display cases are already in place against the east wall of the market to accommodate their sister operation, Riehl Deli & Cheese Shop. When that move takes place, expected later this month, they will expand the meat cases to the deli location.
When Charles Giunta opened and operated Giunta's Prime Shop he complained that RTM shoppers would never pay the price prime meat, especially dry aged prime, must command. In my memory the only butcher who offered prime was Harry Ochs, and its sales declined through the venerable shop's closing nine years ago.
The Riehl brothers experimented in bringing prime cuts back with great success, including American Waygu; Jake Riehl said prime makes up the bulk of Halteman's beef revenue today. The shop's expansion also will allow them to broaden what is now a paltry selection of lamb cuts, which have been missing since Nick Macri departed last year to become the new Four Seasons Hotel's chief butcher. The Riehls also plan to bring in heritage pork (anoher product that disappeared when Macri closed shop) to complement their more commercial offerings.
They'll face competition for the lamb offerings from a new halal butcher the market plans to announce as soon as a lease is negotiated and signed.
In the meantime, expect the market's other meat vendors to up their game. Martin's Quality Meats & Sausages, the retail operation of Martin Giunta's South Jersey manufacturing and wholesale operation, added specialty products (including python!) during the past year. filling in some of the gaps left when Sonny D'Angelo departed the Ninth Street Italian Market. Rob Passio, who now operates Giunta's Prime Shop, has entered the prime beef competition with plans to expand his offerings.
All in all, it looks like the Reading Terminal Market is about to become a meat eater's paradise again.