Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Harry Ochs bolts Reading Terminal Market

The butcher, facing eviction, chooses to walk away.

Harry Ochs bolts Reading Terminal Market

Nick Ochs at his Reading Terminal Market stand in February, after the market sought his eviction.

A century-old Reading Terminal Market merchant is no more. 

Butcher Nick Ochs, facing eviction, has walked away from the Harry G. Ochs & Son stand, which his father took over 64 years ago.

Ochs has surfaced at Main Street Market in Manayunk.

After hours Monday, Ochs was seen at the Terminal removing the old butcher block, the store signage, and some personal effects from the stand. I hear that market management was unaware of his intentions, but a posting on the market's Facebook page early Tuesday made the point clearly:

Harry Ochs is so excited to announce our new venture in Manayunk!! We are located in the Main Street Market. The same quality prime meats and prepared foods that you love, and the same family service and knowledge for which we are famous! We now have the ability to expand our superior line to make your shopping even easier! Looking forward to seeing you in Manayunk! We love and appreciate our loyal customers!

Through his publicist, Ochs issued a statement: "After a great deal of deliberation over the past few months, Monday, May 2nd was the last day of operations for Harry Ochs Prime Meats at the Reading Terminal Market. I decided it was best to close our shop at Reading Terminal Market now, after 105 years, because of many of the personnel and policy changes at the market in the past few years.

"The Ochs Family, in particular my late father, have been steadfast in our support of the market, and spearheaded efforts to keep the market alive when many tried to close it down," Ochs said in the statement. "The past year or so has been difficult, but I am grateful to our many loyal customers and friends who have always supported our efforts. I will have exciting news soon about the future of our business, and I am hopeful that our loyal customers and our friends will share our enthusiasm for this next chapter in our family's business. Be sure to check our website for updates."

Reached Tuesday, Ochs told me: "It seemed like it wasn't working out with us. ... I wanted to leave on a positive note."

In court papers in February, the market alleged that Ochs owed $21,000 in rent and utilities plus attorney's costs.

Update: Paul Steinke, general manager of the market, said: "We're sorry to see them go. We'll long remember the Harry Ochs name. Despite many attempts to reach an agreement to satisfy Nick's financial obligation to the market, we were unable to resolve those issues. But we wish him and his family well."

Follow-up article is here.

Staff Writer
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Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here.

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