WBEZ | butcher http://www.wbez.org/tags/butcher Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Longtime Rogers Park butcher hangs up his apron http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/longtime-rogers-park-butcher-hangs-his-apron-111043 <p><p dir="ltr">At first glance, Ed &amp; Erv&rsquo;s Centrella Food Mart on Touhy Avenue looks like any other small neighborhood grocer. Step inside and the first thing you notice is the smell of mothballs. On the shelves are the usual dry goods: cereal, canned beans and rice. Milk and dairy are in a refrigerator at the rear, and in a corner next to the cash register is a small area for fresh vegetables and fruits.</p><p dir="ltr">But all the way in the back is the store&rsquo;s real hidden gem: a butcher&rsquo;s counter. Denny Mondl, the owner, stands behind a case of his special ground chuck, homemade Italian sausage, bratwurst and skinless hot dogs.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Obviously my specialty is the butcher. Probably two-thirds of my sales are in the back,&rdquo; he said.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Rogers%20Park%20grocer%202.JPG" style="float: right; height: 208px; width: 310px;" title="Mondl’s father, Erv Mondl, co-founded the neighborhood grocery 47 years ago on Touhy Ave. in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p dir="ltr">Mondl&rsquo;s father, the &lsquo;Erv&rsquo; in the store name, opened the store with his business partner in 1947. For nearly seven decades, the small shop served generations of Rogers Park residents who were in the know about the high-quality meats they stocked, and who came to regard the Mondl family as a part of an extended family.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Denny really exemplified what is so good about this neighborhood,&rdquo; said longtime Rogers Park resident Kathy Kirn.</p><p dir="ltr">Kirn&rsquo;s son, now 18 years old and attending college in Boston, once worked as a cashier in Mondl&rsquo;s store. Kirn said as soon as her son found out Mondl planned to close, he bought an airplane ticket to Chicago to visit his old boss.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Denny would make him sandwiches,&rdquo; Kirn said of her son, when he was in grade school. Like many regulars, Kirn&rsquo;s family kept a running tab, paid off regularly, at the store. Mondl never hassled them for payment on the spot.</p><p dir="ltr">Kirn recalled one time that Mondl saved a large family dinner from going awry. She had ordered brisket for a large Rosh Hashanah dinner, but her husband forgot to pick it up. &ldquo;We got home and the babysitter with our kid said someone came and delivered something,&rdquo; Kirn said.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;And Denny had it delivered to my house. He said &lsquo;I knew it was important, so I just had someone deliver it.&rsquo; Who does that? No one does that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But Mondl said business really slowed down in the last decade.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I used to do six deliveries a day, and I probably do about six a week now,&rdquo; Mondl said.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Rogers%20Park%20grocer%203.JPG" style="float: left; height: 208px; width: 310px;" title="Customers have been signing a guestbook in recent weeks, filled with their memories of Mondl and how the store played a role in their lives. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p dir="ltr">Many of his older customers have passed away, and he thinks younger customers are too tired to go home and cook a meal after work.</p><p dir="ltr">Ironically, once people knew it was his last week, Mondl found himself just as busy as he was in the store&rsquo;s heyday.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been making a ton of stuffed chicken breast and stuffed pork chops for people,&rdquo; said Mondl. &ldquo;And when I say a ton, I usually get a 40-lb box of chicken breast. I&rsquo;ve already gotten 120 lbs of chicken breast this week alone to bone out the breast to put the stuffing in it. And pork loins, the same thing.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Hollye Kroger, a Rogers Park resident who only discovered Mondl&rsquo;s store last year, said she&rsquo;s very sad to see him retire. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m getting all kinds of food, tons of food to take home,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;and stuffed chicken to stick in my freezer so I can pretend that it&rsquo;s still open for another couple of months.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Mondl said that at 65 years old, he&rsquo;s the only one among his grade-school and high-school buddies who still works full-time, so he&rsquo;s ready to hang up his butcher apron.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to miss talking to people and the camaraderie with everybody,&rdquo; he said. But he&rsquo;s ready to take it easy. &ldquo;I have projects at home to finish that I&rsquo;ve only started,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;because I&rsquo;ve only been off one day a week.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Sat, 01 Nov 2014 17:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/longtime-rogers-park-butcher-hangs-his-apron-111043 Venture: A chicken butcher's price dilemma http://www.wbez.org/story/alliance-poultry-farms/venture-chicken-butchers-price-dilemma-84997 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-11/venture.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For all of us who have bought milk or Corn Flakes lately, the most relevant economic news this week will likely be data on prices. Both the consumer price index and the producer price index come out this week.&nbsp;<br> <br> Consumers may be feeling sticker shock at the store, but it turns out that businesses feel it even more so when they go to stock their shelves. And deciding how much of that cost to pass on to customers requires some fine calculations.<br> <br> One chicken butcher in Chicago's Ukrainian Village is very familiar with that cost-price conundrum. Alliance Poultry Farms is tucked in among a jewelry store, a check-cashing place and a Walgreens on Chicago Avenue. Outside, it advertises "pollos vivos," reflecting its largely Spanish-speaking clientele.<br> <br> Alliance Poultry is a small business, but it’s just as tied to the global economy as any multinational corporation.<br> <br> Like most businesses these days, Alliance Poultry is dealing with higher costs. Co-owner Fayyad Abdallah says the price of cracked corn that he feeds to the birds has doubled in about a year and a half.<br> <br> But it's the price of gas that's really making his costs go up. Abdallah says he's now paying about 20 cents more a pound for the organic chickens he buys from Amish farms in Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. &nbsp;<br> <br> So in turn, Abdallah has to raise his own prices. But he's only increased his chicken price by 5 cents a pound.<br> <br> "We don't want to go up that much because right away, customers would notice that there's a big increase and then they'll be questioning, and then they might not come back again," Abdallah says. "So I'd rather lose a few cents a pound than lose a few customers."<br> <br> That calculation is something many businesses have to weigh.<br> <br> Chad Syverson is professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He says producer prices, which are essentially wholesale prices, and consumer prices are correlated but don't move in lockstep. Producer prices have bigger swings up and down than consumer prices. He says it's something of a riddle why that is.<br> <br> One reason, Syverson says, is so-called "menu costs." The name comes from the cost restaurants bear when they actually have to print up new menus with new prices. But the idea translates to all businesses - there are costs involved in researching and setting new prices.<br> <br> Syverson says businesses decide to raise prices when they decide that their own higher costs aren't temporary.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" height="437" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-11/cpi v ppi smaller.JPG" title="Percentage changes in the consumer price index and the producer price index (University of Chicago/Chad Syverson)" width="638"><br> <br> We all know one area where higher costs seem to hit us right away - at the gas pump.<br> <br> That’s where we are this week for our Windy Indicator, getting a read on the wider economy from one little sliver.<br> <br> Are higher gas prices changing people’s buying habits?<br> <br> Yared Alemu manages a Shell station in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood.<br> <br> "Before, people filled up all the way," Alemu says. "Now they just give you 20 bucks, 30 bucks to fill up and that’s it."<br> <br> So are people driving less these days?<br> <br> Let us know how you're adjusting to higher gas prices - leave a comment at the end of this story.<br> <br> Next week, our Windy Indicator checks out the lamb shanks.<br> <br> <br> <br> &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 11 Apr 2011 05:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/alliance-poultry-farms/venture-chicken-butchers-price-dilemma-84997