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Downtown gets its first fresh butcher counter in years

A popular Niagara County butcher shop has taken over the meat department at the Washington Market, bringing fresh, all-natural, locally raised meats sold by the piece.

Dispenza’s first day at the Ellicott Street grocer’s retail meat counter was last Friday. It will offer locally-raised, freshly cut beef, pork, chicken and veal, as well as a limited supply of lamb and goat.

“We offer many unique items that commercial meat markets cannot provide,” owner Frank Dispenza said. “Since we work with the whole animal, anything is a possibility,”

There will also be what Dispenza calls “old school butcher creations,” such as bone-in roasts and Korean marinated beef short ribs.

The selection at Washington Market won’t be as extensive as its main butcher shop in the Town of Cambria, but Dispenza said he would work to find the right product mix.

“As we see how we are accepted in the city, we will expand according to the demand,” Dispenza said.

It will take orders at its main store, 3130 Ridge Road in Ransomville, which can be picked up at the downtown store. The Ransomville location also serves as the Dispenza family farm.

Specially made products, such as sausage and hamburger patties, do not contain preservatives, additives or fillers, and use fresh organic spices and other fresh ingredients, the company said. It makes 17 varieties of sausage.

A few products for sale will be frozen, such as the butcher’s specialty bleu cheese burgers, bacon cheddar burgers and jalapeño jack burgers.

The local meats come from several different local farms, including T-Meadow Farm in Lockport, Teacup Farm in Barker and Dispenza’s.

“Farms that meet our humane, natural standards,” Dispenza said.

Until now, downtown offerings were limited to frozen meats or fresh, local meat in wholesale portions, such as a whole pig or half a cow. If that’s what you’re looking for, Dispenza’s can arrange it. But for now, what’s notable is that a downtown retail meat counter is selling fresh cuts of meat raised in Niagara County.

For now, the downtown meat counter will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Dispenza and his wife, Rachel, will work the counter at Washington Market. Their son, Frank Jr., will take over management of the Ransomville location. The Dispenzas’ six children will also help out at the downtown location.

Frank is a former police officer, Rachel is a former emergency medical technician. Unhappy in his profession, Frank left to work for the previous owner at the Cambria butcher shop, then called DH Cloy and Son, and owned by Dave Cloy. When Cloy decided to sell the business, the Dispenzas bought it.

In early 2015, the shop suffered a fire. It did $250,000 in damage to its refrigeration system, the building’s structure, and the store’s inventory.

Insurance didn’t cover the damage, so the Dispenzas took other jobs while it rebuilt. The store reopened about nine months later.