Santa Barbara News-Press – By Sonia Fernandez, News-Press Correspondent.
Situated in the Funk Zone, Gray Avenue is indeed a street that marches to its own beat, from a business that operates out of an alleged former whorehouse, to a gym that people from around the world can visit to participate in the newest fitness craze. A building or two in the neighborhood are remnants of a fishing enterprise operated by the Castagnola family, which still owns them; others may seem derelict to the untrained eye until one gets close enough to see activity. Change here is a little more on the organic side than in other places in the city, but the people and the businesses here make it work.
For those looking for that special cut of meat, and for whom regular store-bought just won’t do, Shalhoob’s Meat Company is the place to go. A family-owned and run business since 1973, three generations of Shalhoobs have wielded the knives, manned the counters and delivered meat to local restaurants and residents, with the more discerning taste in their cuts of meat. The business was started at Santa Barbara Street, by Jerry Shalhoob, as a local butcher cutting and packing sides of beef for local families, and perfecting the art of Santa Barbara-style beef jerky. Now Jill’s Place — owned by Jerry’s daughter Jill Shalhoob — is in that spot, as the butcher shop moved to its Funk Zone location, taking over the former Taylor meat-packing plant.
Though well known on the local restaurant scene for their high-quality custom cuts, the meat purveyor sells wholesale to the public as well, via prepacked items from a refrigerator in the plant’s lobby, or a call to place an order.
“You are guaranteed to find a family member behind the counter when you walk in or on the other end of the phone when you call,” said Leeandra Shalhoob, who is often that family member on the other end of the line (her father John now runs the company). The institutional knowledge and the mom-and-pop service is a rare and welcomed element for customers, who benefit from special cuts and preparation tips.