Yesterday Mike Romano the owner of the last butcher shop in Fitchburg that has been run by his family for 100 years died after a short but violent bout with cancer at the age of 69.
Mike was in the shop every day. Six days a week open and Monday’s doing his bookkeeping except for the week of Christmas, Thanksgiving or New Years when he would close on the holiday and open on Monday to make up for it. He was a fixture of the city. For decades when you walked into Romano’s Market you saw Mike fist with his father and uncle and then later with his sons. He was of the old school, he worked hard, did his job well, didn’t whine, didn’t complain and took care of customers.
I first wrote about Mike after seeing a post at Instapundit comparing sausage making and laws. His piece prompted this email which was the 1st time I was mentioned at Instapundit:
UPDATE: How bad have things gotten? Bad enough that when you compare journalism to sausage-making, people write in to defend sausage-makers! Reader Peter Ingemi writes:
I live 7 doors down from a butcher shop that has been in the neighborhood and one particular family for 100 years. A couple of months ago when I walked in and was making my order I noticed Mike (the butcher) cutting and cubing pork. He seemed to be cutting an awful lot of it, I didn’t see a special on the board so I asked about it.
He reminded me it was Wednesday and that is the day he made all of the different sausages he makes (about a half dozen types not counting chicken and kielbasa) I stood there and watched him making sausages and realized that the old saying about Sausages no matter how true it might be for a plant or maybe another butcher shop it wasn’t true at Romano’s. (I can’t speak for other local butchers but I would bet good money that this is true for other family butcher shops too.)
I think Mike and the other local butchers deserve a caveat.
Shortly afterwards Mike let me film him making sausage it turned into an in depth look at an old fashioned neighborhood family business
There is no part 7 or if there is I don’t know what happened to it, here is part 8
I filmed there several other times. like the day before Thanksgiving one year
Kaite is only there occasionally these days, Michelle is now 29 and still works there part time in fact she cut the steak I bought there Wednesday. Harold has been dead for a few years. Mike’s Son Josh the teacher is now the Principal of school he was at and left the service as a Major. His other son Todd from the videos is still in sales but is regularly at the shop
I have no idea what the future of the Butcher shop will be as I can’t imagine going anywhere else after almost three decades of walking down the street for my meats but even if it continues it’s going to be an odd thing walking in there and not seeing Mike anymore but I’m glad that I had the chance to shoot these videos and others so I and others can remember him by.
Mike was a good man, and if he treated his other customers half as good as he treated me and mine over the years he will be sorely missed as a person can be.
Update: Corrected his age, Mike was 69 would have been 70 this year. I should mention that if you walked into Romano’s over the last few years, particularly during the holiday season or the summer months you were very likely to be waited on by one of Mike’s many grandchildren which makes seven generations of Romano’s at this business.
Here is his Obit from the Sentinel & Enterprise this jumped out at me:
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Mike’s name to the Lunenburg Fire and Rescue, 655 Mass Avenue, Lunenburg, MA 01462 or Fitchburg Fire Fighters Relief Fund, 33 North Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420. or may be left at the funeral home.
The firestations would always come down for a big order on a regular basis
thought I’d include one more video of his sons talking during the pink slime business: