Heights Prime Meats Says Goodbye to Brooklyn Heights

If you’ve noticed that the doors have been dark at Heights Prime Meats on Clark St. since last week and wondered what happened, BHB is sad to report that the neighborhood stalwart has shut down for good. After much hand-ringing and asking around the neighborhood over the past week, we finally tracked down owner Frank Ferrigno who confirmed the news.

HPM2

Frank Ferrigno at the shop in 1995.

Frank opened HPM in 1995 and has worked there since, along with his brother Tony. “In business for 24 years,” he said wistfully. Asked why he was shutting down, Frank gave many reasons. “When the scaffolding went up five years ago and stayed up for over two years, the business declined and never really picked up again. But the rent kept going up year after year. First it was three percent a year and the landlord raised it to five percent, and it just kept compounding. I watched as Tazza closed and then the pet store, all on the same block. And then to hear that the subway station may be closing for a year, I just couldn’t keep it up anymore.”

Google maps photo 2015.

Google maps photo (2015).

What about Rolando, the friendly employee behind the counter who was loved by customers? Frank said that he helped Rolando find another job before closing. Asked how he was feeling about shutting the business, Frank said, “I feel sad, but I’m trying to get stuff together and sorting out the next step. I feel bad about how sudden the decision was and wish it could have been done differently. I’ll really miss the regular customers, they know who they are.”

Tracy Zamot, otherwise known to regular readers as “Mrs. Fink,” was one of those faithful customers. So much so that she alerted BHB readers back in 2010 that no one should panic, the shop’s phone was on the fritz, and provided an alternate phone number to place holiday orders. Needless to say, Mrs. Fink is heartbroken and said, “The staff at HPM exemplified the family vibe I’ve always loved about the neighborhood. Perhaps it goes without saying that they were my day-to-day go to and offered so much more than supermarket packaged meats. They not only took my holiday orders year after year, but offered help in prepping – say stuffing a leg of lamb and spice-rubbing ham, using my own recipes and specifications. Their sense of humor whenever I needed to add or change an order was always appreciated. I will miss them so.”

So will the neighborhood.

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  • AEB

    The day after the Fourth I went to Prime Meats, a regular stop for me, to pick up one of their superior chickens, and found it shuttered, gone.

    Besides the shock of this sudden and in no way anticipated discovery I felt anger and sadness. I depended on the shop–where else, now, will I be able to get meat locally, not of course counting our supermarkets, with their shrink-wrapped dreck, or the ridiculously expensive Dellapietra (thirty bucks for two pork chops, anyone)?

    The larger issue is, of course, the loss of a basic amenity that helped to make our neighborhood more of one, not just a deluxe bedroom community, which, with every loss of a non-corporate store, it threatens to become.

    Gone, too, is the ritual, with its personal exchanges between customer and sellers, that also characterized a trip to Prime Meats. I suppose we were lucky to have a butcher shop at all–the breed itself is dying out as we are swallowed whole by the greed of landlords and–it must be said–the indifference of consumers who don’t support the institutions they, know it or not, need.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Frank was a good guy. Remember him from Staubitz Meat Market, in Cobble Hill, way back when.

  • Sweeties

    A great loss for the neighborhood.

  • Sweeties

    The nearest, credible butchers are now on Court or Smith. Garden of Eden (or whatever it’s called now) was passable, but nowhere near as good. It really is a great shame.

  • AEB

    It’s also a matter of geography: how far should one have to travel to get basic provisions?

    For most BH residents it’s easier to “import” meat from Manhattan than go to Staubitz in Carol Gardens. Even a trek to Montague is, at least for me, living as I do in the north Heights, a schlep.

  • Reggie

    …and that, son, is how all of Brooklyn Heights became vegetarians back in 2019.

  • Heightsman

    The brothers are great people. I feel bad as I had tailed off in going the past years because I wasn’t cooking in as much. I know Dellapietra’s is expensive but they appear to be doing well. They obviously have filled a neighborhood need that was unmet. Read: high end. I wonder if less people are cooking in overall as the ability to order in (Seemless, etc.) is so easy. What about the impact of Fresh Direct, etc.? I hope they land well and wish them the best. It’s a loss for the neighborhood.

  • Andrew Porter

    I’ve been going to Dellapietras, 193 Atlantic Avenue, across from Trader Joe’s and adjacent to Damascus Bakery and Sahadi’s. Not that I really buy high-end meat, but they sell cooked brisket by the pound. Also excellent sandwiches and a lot of other meats.

    I used to go to HPM, but haven’t in nearly a decade.

  • JDF

    I don’t get the love for Heights Prime. The quality was fine but it seemed overpriced with a limited selection. With planning, I much rather shop at Paisanos or the farmers markets. That said, I would shop there when I didn’t plan in advance and share the feeling of loss for another local, independent business that provided a necessary service that is unlikely to be replaced.

  • MaryT

    Oh, rats. I feared this would happen.

    Frank and Tony, for more than 20 years you’ve been a staple in our lives. I’ve asked you many questions and always got the right answers. Your meats never disappointed.

    I will miss you sooo much, and Rolando too. Bless you all and best of wishes.

  • Local_Montague_Man

    Dellapietras is great, premium cuts are well sourced and butchered (expensive). Suasages are fantastic, made in house, and are relatively cheap.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7nPOzGeyaw Arch Stanton

    Agreed, though it was handy in a pinch. I find Fairway as good quality and less expensive than the local butchers, albeit somewhat less convenient.

  • Andrew Porter

    When I moved here, a really long time ago, there was a butcher on the corner of Pineapple and Hicks, where Joe Coffee is now. Sawdust on the floor and everything.

  • AEB

    It wasn’t so much the unfailing terrificness of the meat and poultry–though their chickens came from D’Artagnan–but a reliable quality adhered to. And convenience. In my experience, the stuff they offered was far better than the supermarket equivalents.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7nPOzGeyaw Arch Stanton

    FYI I have been to the D’Artagnan packing facility in New Jersey, Trust me its 90% hype…

  • Still Here

    We have been a patron since it opened. Where will can find that great chicken, cutlets and THE THANKSGIVING TURKEY!??

  • clover_hill_billy

    Christmas ham, thanksgiving turkey, breakfast sausages, you name it, Prime Meats was the best! Shame we subsidize Fresh Direct and their ilk while letting small businesses suffer. :(

  • Pierrepont

    Brutal news! Oh, the meatballs! 😭 Will miss those intensely. Paisanos and Staubitz, I guess, are the local options now. (Not a big fan of the vibe at Dellapietras.)

  • Heightsman

    Damn, forgot about their meatballs. They were very very good. Also the ground beef was amazing. Ground right there for you many times.

  • JaneonOrange

    Who remembers the one on the corner of Montague and Henry?

  • Andrew Porter

    …That became the pizza place, and after several incarnations became the high-end drugstore that’s there now.

  • JaneonOrange

    No–it was kitty-corner across, where Kiels is now. The pharmacy is where Walden Books was and before that Queens{?} pizza.

  • Clara West

    Don’t recall one on Hicks and Pineapple.
    But Sal’s was on Henry where Cranberry’s currently is. Also, another one on corner of Cranberry and Hicks. Don’t recall name. was replaced by Chinese restaurant. They also had a second store on Montague and Henry.
    And for long time residents, Mateo’s on Middagh off of Henry. Residents liked their meat back then.

  • Andrew Porter

    That’s what I meant. Here’s the 1940 Municipal Archives photo of the building in question:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2ec9f9ec39540f76d41f651666556601cf952cc00621d825dd392a472a37bed8.png

  • Andrew Porter

    The many photos from the Municipal Archives show a lot of small markets around the Heights, many of them Bohack’s.

    This was all before they invented the “super-market.” Back when the fridge was often an ice-box.

    And every evening, you washed, dried and ironed your handkerchief, because disposable tissues hadn’t been invented, either.