This beloved market is a place where everybody knows your name
The ceiling looks as if it’s covered in the best whipped-cream peaks you’ve ever seen. The walls look like vanilla frosting. The barrel tiles on the faux mini-roof nod to SoFla, but what makes a first-timer’s mouth fall open are the cases and cases of savory and sweet foodstuffs.
It would be a Herculean feat to try and make a meal out of every ingredient offered in the Meating Place, which has been here for 51 years. (Before that, The Village Butcher was its predecessor.) Along with the bounty of flavors is another rarity: This is a store where customers and staff know each other well, and the appreciation is palpable from both sides of the showcases.
The door opens, a chime rings and a greeting goes out. A query, a response, “I’ll go in the back and see if we have what you need. How many? Are you traveling far?” If a trip is deemed far away, an ice pack goes in the shopping bag to keep the wares cool.
“The best thing we get from our customers is calling back after a meal and telling us how happy they are with the meal,” says Erick Andersen, who’s been here 16 years. “That actually happens a lot.
“You can’t run a business like this if your heart’s not in it.”
The staff of five is headed by Del Valeriay, who opened the Meating Place in 1968 and, in his 80s, still stops in almost every day. Three of his employees lived in Ohio, knew each other there and ended up working together here in Boca Raton. “Uncle” Jack Baitz is the manager and arrived in 1984.
“I don’t do much advertising,” says Valeriay. “We don’t have to… it’s the best quality beef we can buy.”
His commitment to quality means, “I’m taking care of kids’ kids here after 51 years.”
The shop may have the word “meat” in the name, but the amazing variety of products calling for a taste numbers in the hundreds.
For instance, there are house-made appetizers: chicken quesadillas, spanakopita, mini beef Wellingtons, quiches, chicken tenders, meatballs, potato pancakes, chicken dumplings, beef stew, lobster, escargot, smoked Scottish salmon, mini crab cakes, tuna, cheeses, caviar, sauces, dips. Salads include crab, ham, lobster, shrimp, egg, chicken liver and more—and they’re wonderful right out of the carton, or scooped into sandwiches.
There also are meals to go: home-style chicken and dumplings, Salisbury steak with whipped potatoes, homemade meatloaf, mac & cheese, meat lasagna, shepherd’s pie, beef stroganoff.
There are cookies, pastries, pies, candy, wine and pasta. And the staff, who will know you by name—and remember it—after the first visit.
THE MEATING PLACE: 277 E. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, 561/368-6843; Hours: Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., https://www.meatingplaceboca.com/