Hard Work, Dedication and Loyalty Brings Back Robert’s Meat Market
by Ginger Broomes
After last July’s fire nearly destroyed Robert’s Meat Market and Restaurant, Robert Ramirez, his family and employees are excited to finally be able to reopen the Meat Market portion tomorrow. Beginning at 8:00 am, the doors at 3720 W. Park Avenue will again open for the generations of customers who have visited Robert’s since he began his original shop on Simmons Drive in 1980. Robert’s moved to the Park Avenue location in 1990, and has been there ever since.
“We are going to be full service,” said his granddaughter, and general manager, Marianne Bosio. “Nothing prepackaged. You come in an order anything from a Porterhouse to a Ribeye; they can be cut to order.”
She pointed out the changes around the market, such as the logo and décor. The Meat Market will have smoked meats and new items like alligator sausage, along with a fuller produce section and cold grab-and-go sides.
“We want to be a specialty shop – above the norm, eventually adding things like pre-sliced packages of vegetables for the hamburger meat, and maybe heart-shaped steaks for Valentine’s Day,” she said.
Right now, hot grab and go meals won’t be available, as there is no kitchen in which to cook. The restaurant was completely destroyed save for the cinderblock walls.
“The fire was devastating,” Bosio said. “This is your home… the office we used in the back, was a single-wide trailer I lived in as a little girl.”
An electrical shortage in that back office sparked the fire, spreading flames to the kitchen where it hit the grease and consumed the restaurant part of the building, causing the ceiling to cave in. That cave-in, ironically, was what saved the meat market area, as firefighters had to cut through the roll-down steel doors on the front in order to get to the flames.
For weeks as the fire was investigated, no one was allowed in. But when the time came, the employees volunteered to clean up rancid meat that had sat in the summer heat. They donned hazmat suits and went to work. And they kept working.
Customers and neighbors kept dropping by with offers of help and even money. One neighbor offered Robert’s the use of their water and even their swimming pool, for cooling off after a day of cleaning up.
Ramirez said they hope to have the restaurant reopened in April, at the earliest, and for lunch only, with a smaller menu. Covid, the economy and shipping backlogs have delayed getting restaurant equipment. The cost of meat has also doubled since Robert’s was last open, resulting in a price increase.
“You have to accept it, the new normal,” Ramirez said. “You have to work around it. Everyone is raising prices. Now, if the prices are all the same, where can you go, and get good customer service? So, we push customer service.”
Eventually, they’d like to give customers the ability to order a cut of meat at the counter and have it cooked anyway they want. There will also be retail items emblazoned with Robert’s Meat Market new logo, on everything from shirts to koozies.
With these changes, what hasn’t changed is Ramirez’s love for his community and employees. The core staff has been with Robert’s throughout the fire and the aftermath – cleaning and working on the building. GM Tina Myers has been with Robert’s for 40 years, and head butcher, James Mouton, for 27. With nothing spared from the fire, the recipes now only exist in the minds of the long-time staff.
Ramirez and Bosio are overwhelmed by the community’s support, and ask for patience as they open the doors tomorrow.
“We’ve been through hurricanes, ice storm, and now fire…everything but an earthquake,” Ramirez said. And we’re still standing.”