Motta stands tall as it continues to strive through an era in which so many others faltered
To walk through the doors at Motta Butcher Shop, where it stands on Liege Street, and where it’s stood at that address since 1989, is to take a trip back in time, perhaps to when the local butcher shop was where you got your meat and not at the meat section at your local conglomerate grocery store. But perhaps that can be said of so many of the businesses in Park Extension, as even walking the streets, you somehow get the impression that there, in Park Ex, the place you grew up, time kind of stood still all its own; no matter how quickly the world was moving away from its streets and out there in the world.
Maybe it’s just me, but when I walked into the shop to speak with the owner and butcher, Frank for this profile piece, I was immediately taken back to a time when going to the butcher shop with my father and listening to him talk to the butcher about soccer, politics, the weather, was the highlight of my boring summer day.
On this day, all these years later, I didn’t stay long, as Frank was very busy (as he always is), but the time I did get to stay with him, I learned a lot about the business his grandfather started so long ago, and I got to know him, a soft-spoken and kind man, who’s proud of his community and what his family built.
A brief history
When his grandfather actually started the business in the mid-sixties, it was a fruit store. Then when his father, Johnny took over, he dropped the fruit and decided to concentrate on meat exclusively—a decision that proved fruitful indeed, pardon the unintended pun.
As for Johnny, he has officially retired, but he still goes every day, according to his son, Frank. Frank is in charge now, and he’s proud to be, taking charge of the business his grandfather started and father expanded. But perhaps for Johnny himself, it’s rather hard letting go. After all, how could you let go of something you built? Something that took so much of your time and effort over the years?
They’ve always been on Liege Street, moving only three times in fifty years, and as we mentioned, they’ve been at that specific location since 1989.
Breezing through Covid-19
Frank stated that the pandemic didn’t affect them or the business in any way. He stated that people still came and trusted them, just as they had for so long, over the long years that they’ve been serving up cuts of meat.
He said: “When you know someone for thirty years (and over) … our clients still trusted us, knowing that we were maintaining everything well, disinfecting … and they kept on coming.”
We asked if they lost a bit of business due to the fact that reception halls had closed, and because of the blow that the restaurant industry suffered at the hands of the pandemic, but he stated that no, not at all, as they haven’t catered all that much to that portion of the service industry even before the pandemic. He stated that they used to, but they veered more toward retail, catering to the community specifically.
They offer any cuts of meat across the board, and they’re open from Tuesdays to Saturdays. The team consists of Frank himself, his father and at times a part-timer. It seems like certainly a small team, but definitely a tour de force in terms of delivering their product at the end of the day. It’s sometimes the smaller teams that can deliver the best product when it’s all said and done.
Standing tall and humble
To quote Canadian rock band Blue Rodeo: “Looking back it’s hard to tell / Why they stood while others fell,” but perhaps it isn’t all that hard to tell at all when it comes to Motta Butcher Shop, as it was plainly seen when I walked into their establishment that dedication is what it’s all about for them.
They’re dedicated to their product, to the community they serve, and to the history that their business represents and not only to their family, but to each and every client they serve and have served for these fifty years gone by.
They are further committed to keeping everyone safe, as they all wear masks, they ask their clients to wear masks, and the place was squeaky clean while I was there, and as it has always been, even before the rise of this pandemic, Frank explains.
Maybe in the end, it is that specifically that sets them apart from others, and perhaps there’s no reason at all why other businesses fell and succumbed to the pressure of what this pandemic brought along with it other than the fact that it just seems to be the way of it—this horrendous pandemic brought on by a series of unfortunate events that are still a mystery to most people in this world.
Regardless, for those of us in the Park Extension community, and with businesses like Motta Butcher Shop and others, ready and willing to serve us, the terrible things that wash ashore are a little easier to take when they hit. Because we know they’re there for us when the bad times hit.