By PAUL MCAVOY
NEW SCOTLAND — Fred the Butcher, the meat shop known for loyal fans and excellent cuts of beef in Halfmoon, opened its second location in early March – and the owners and customers couldn’t be more pleased.
The New Scotland store, called Fred the Butcher II, is a second generation family business, and it is in the location of the former Falvo’s, another family owned butcher business with long ties in the area. Falvo’s first opened in 1974 and was owned by butcher Joe Robilotto from 1991 to 2020. The owners of Fred’s purchased the building and business from Robilotto in 2020 and began an extensive renovation.
“It was just a good opportunity for all parties involved,” said Fred the Butcher’s co-owner David MacVane, Jr. Together with his father, David MacVane, Sr., and partner Andy Buonanno (son of the original ‘Fred’). “We basically renovated the whole building and created what we wanted to bring to the area. We wanted to give them the Fred the Butcher experience, which is an old-world artisan butchery, and give a quality product to the people.”
With a grocery section, deli counter, bakery section, and produce, the New Scotland shop could be mistaken for a small-town grocery store. But where it stands out is in the meat selection. With a long case that runs the length of the back of the store, customers can see the butchers at work at the equipment and tables behind the counter, cutting steaks bringing them right out to the meat case. Fred’s stocks only top-quality Angus and Prime grade beef, which MacVane explains comes from the best 3 percent of all beef produced.
Everything offered in the meat section is made in-house: from the salad, to the sausage, the bacon, the ground beef, and the ham. For true aficionados they offer a dry-aged cooler and hard-to-find wagyu beef. Even the other meats, such as lamb and pork, are top quality and come from heritage breeds and Amish farms. All of the meat that they sell is butchered and broken down in the shop, meaning that customers can get pieces cut to the specifications they want from the people who know it best. That experience, MacVane said, is key to the business’ success.
“[We offer] a high quality product, with very knowledgeable staff, and really great customer service. That’s what we pride ourselves on. The customers are getting what food is supposed to be like.”
Those interactions, from customers asking about how to best cook a certain cut of meat, to learning about where it comes from on the animal, to getting to know the men and women who work there, is part of the charm – and the business plan. MacVane and his partners intentionally built the business around the old-school experience.
That approach is what made Falvo’s popular for so many years, and MacVane was glad to be able to build on that reputation. The returning customers, he said, all seem to appreciate the renovations. The building now has a modern farmhouse feel and expanded parking lot. Over $700,000 went into the work, MacVane explained, but what customers appreciate most is that it’s still a small family business run by people who are passionate about their product. And as an added bonus, butcher Joe Robilotto works there a couple of days a week – keeping his ties with the location and the customers. A true family business, many of the MacVanes (including David’s mother and father, wife, and brother) are involved in the day-to-day work of the two locations. David MacVane, Jr. will be primarily working in the new location.
“I think people around the area really appreciate the small independence,” MacVane explains. “I just feel like America’s kind of gotten away from the whole small family independent [business], but I think it’s coming back. People really appreciate that. They know the owners are on the scene.”