For many Malta area residents and food lovers, March 2013 will forever be remembered as a sad time. Just Meat and Deli will be leaving the community at the end of the month.
Facing the expiration of their site’s lease, the beloved butcher’s shop and lunchtime sandwich spot is departing its current location at 2578 Route 9 to start anew at at 1023 Route 29 in Schuylerville as of April 1.
For nearly a hundred years, there has been some version of the Little family’s business in Ballston Spa or Malta. A framed news article dating from 1919 hangs in the current shop to the side of the front door, describing Little Bros. Meats for sale at the local market on Malta Avenue.
“It’s our community, our family,” said Matt Little, one of the brothers who runs the shop now.
“We grew up in Malta,” said Mark, another brother.
Since 1981, the small business has been fully owned and operated by the Littles. Many Malta residents had grown familiar with the shop off of Dunning Street, next to the Stewart’s at the roundabout.
In 2008, Just Meat and Deli moved around the corner to its Route 9 location, a site the Littles have been leasing from the Town of Malta for five years. The town put the Littles’ lease up for public bid when its termination approached.
“The lease came to the end of its term and put up for public bid. Of course, Just Meats was included and invited to renew their lease as part of the public bid,” said town Supervisor Paul Sausville. “I understand they will be trying some new things as part of their decision to move to a new location.”
“We will be sad to see them go as they have been such an important part of downtown,” Sausville said. “We wish them all the best in their new shop. I have no doubt they will be successful, very quickly.”
Moving in to the site will be Pellegrino Importing, an over 45-year-old Italian and Greek-American deli grocer based in Albany. Their 10-year lease of the site was authorized by the Malta Town Board during a public meeting on March 4.
Sausville described Pellegrino as an “upscale” food shop which should be able to provide many of the same services Just Meat has provided for many years.
Once their lease was up and their bid declined, the Littles found themselves needing to set up shop elsewhere. The move is not a particularly easy one to stomach.
“Our customers are our family,” the Littles said.
Carmen Sno, a resident of Luther Forest, said she and her family have been coming to Just Meat for 27 years, since moving to the area from New York City.
“Their product is excellent, their quality is awesome,” Sno said. “They have seen my kids grow up, and I’ve seen them grow up.”
“They had their tables out here,” Sno said as she gestured towards the now-empty area in front of the shop. “They used to serve ice cream, so you used to come in the summer and have your lunch and have your ice cream as well.”
Just Meat’s new location in Schuylerville is nearly 20 miles and at least 20 minutes away from Malta, which could pose a problem for its current customer base. While still in Saratoga County, the commute may prove too much for some to make on a regular basis.
“They’re going to lose a lot of customers,” Sno said. “I’m sad to see them go.”
While the owners are also “disappointed and sad,” they are optimistic about the move regardless.
“We’re really excited about moving to Schuylerville, it’s a great community,” Matt said.
“Life goes on,” he added, noting the move did not signal the end of the world.
For now, residents can still enjoy everything Just Meat and Deli has to offer close to home, for a few days at least.
Just Meat and Deli is currently open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., and Sundays until 5 p.m. For information call 518-899-4811.
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