Readers’ Choice: A meaty identity

Photo by Maria Young

Many people are great at griping about completing a 40-hour work week. Those individuals might have their minds enlightened, and eventually their stomachs satisfied, through a conversation with Anthony Lombardi, who takes joy in every second of the 65.5 hours that he operates Lombardi’s Prime Meats, 1801 Packer Ave. For tireless dedication to his craft and customers, the proud owner and his brethren, including father Vince, have cut fine figures as representatives of South Philly’s best butcher shop.

“If you want to run a successful business, you have to devote your life to it,” the proprietor pronounced at his prestigious Packer Park establishment. “When you have that and people see it, they come to rely on you, and that’s a wonderful feeling.”

The Garden State resident arrives at the 16-year-old space at 6 a.m. six days a week, and offers a variety of peerless proteins until 5 p.m. on weekdays and 4:30 p.m. Saturdays. He does not deem the schedule at all daunting and thrives on the pressure no matter the time of year, with the Lenten and Christmas seasons as supreme tests of his durability.

“The attention to detail is what keeps everyone happy,” he said of a mindset that helps him to become not only a preferred purveyor among locals but also a good friend to many of them.

“It’s a simple approach for me — Keep quality at its utmost because consumers deserve that consideration,” he said.

Being ready for their requests has enabled Lombardi, 51, et al to remain relevant and respected at a time when his vocation has become “a dying art.” He relayed that many residents feel such loyalty to him that they have taken to confessing guilt over making supermarket excursions on Sundays, the crew’s lone day off. That camaraderie counts for so much for the second-generation owner, who is looking to sustaining the location’s influence by guiding son Vincent as his eventual successor.

“Whether someone has come here for years or just stopped for the first time yesterday, I need to make an impression,” Lombardi said of sating demands for delectable options, which relationships with six suppliers make possible. “No matter how long I have done this or will end up doing it, there’s never a day where I will forget how proud I feel to have their trust.”

As for claiming the Readers’ Choice distinction, Lombardi expressed immense gratitude to voters in helping his site to have a meaty identity.

“Butchers are few and far between,” he said. “I know I’m not the only game in town, so this feels good.”

Cannuli’s chopped its way to second place while Esposito’s split with third-place honors.