By Tara Vocino
McKinnon’s completed exterior improvements recently in order to attract additional customers from the roadway.
The 1,400-square foot meat market installed old-fashioned ’60s LED lights that bend over, a digital display that is more visible from the street, window shutters and a roof sign. Inside, staff installed a $4,000 food warmer and a $4,000 18-foot deli display that holds 600 pounds of meat. Store Manager Joe Cucuzza said that they plan to install even more meat cases in the coming years.
The store, which opened in 1946, was a combination gas station/drug store/meat market. The front parking lot was originally a gas station. McKinnon’s became strictly a meat market in the ’80s, according to Cucuzza.
New this fall, the 45-employee store is selling four kinds of lettuce from Urban Harvest on Revere Beach Parkway. “This area isn’t known for local vegetables, so that’s unique,” he said.
He said they incorporate foods based on their customer base, whom he identifies as extended family. For instance, they sell Goya products, plantains, coconuts, mangos, guacamole and Brazilian cookies as well as pastas.
“There is more turnover with our customers,” Cucuzza said. “It’s not as stable as it once was with only Italian-Americans. But we still have customers who know who we are even though the area is changing. Our product move is incredible.”
Cucuzza, who started off as deli manager in 2002, said customer service is the biggest priority, and he personally asks customers if they have found everything they’re looking for. He went on to say that he talks to elderly ladies, and employees carry their groceries out to their car, so they have company, and he asks other customers about the game last night.
He encouraged new faces to come in. Most customers walk on foot, but they have 13 parking spaces in the front and four spaces in back. “Come see what we have,” Cucuzza said. “Give us a shot.”
He said they sponsor charities, such as sports- or holiday-related, and donate or sample hot dogs and steak tips for those events.
The bread and butter is their meat from Sharon Foods and Jimmy Carter Lamb and Veal based out of South Boston, which is cut daily, and their original tips are their best seller, according to Cucuzza. They accommodate catering orders and deli platters, by appointment only.
Front-End Manager Kate Pitre said she tries to purchase the healthy options – lettuce to make her own wraps and lean meat. “It still has great flavor but you have half the fat,” Pitre said.
Besides employees, customers took a break from shopping to comment on their favorite product to buy.
Everett resident Cecelia Murphy, who has been visiting for six years, said her picks are ground beef to use in spaghetti sauces and teriyaki tips. She noticed that the waiting line is smoother, and she likes the exterior changes that the store made.
Everett resident Gary Caputo, who visits three times a week, was buying an olive/cheese platter from Deli Manager John Monaco, and the feature of the week, porterhouse steak – that was on the outdoor sign. “I walk here since it’s more convenient than going to a big-box store,” Caputo said. “They have good customer service, great quality meats and friendly faces. I am called nicknames, such as Mr. Caputo, when I come in. They put their customers ‘Number One.’”
He shared his opinion on the exterior enhancements. “I could see the new sign from about a quarter of a mile away,” Caputo said. “I love the colors.”
Everett resident James Howard, who visits weekly, was in the store buying rib eye steak and fish. “The meats, vegetables, fruit and fish are fresher here,” Howard said. He also noticed the sign, adding that he prefers the renovations over the original.
Hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 to 6 p.m. For information, visit 620 Broadway, visit mckinnonsmarkets.com, or call 617-387-6285.