Strip District Meats Completes Major Renovation

    Exterior of Strip District Meats

    It was time to tear down the old and put in the new. That’s what Raymond Turkas Jr. says about how the renovations to Strip District Meats, Pittsburgh’s premier butcher shop, came about.

    Situated at 2121-23 Penn Avenue for over four decades, the family-run business had long been showing its age: Outdated green paint covered the exterior walls, showcases from when Turkas’s father (the original owner of the shop) installed them were inefficient, and run-down windows weren’t durable in the colder months.

    With an ever-growing list of updates that needed to be made, the Turkases decided it was time to revamp the market, embarking on a year-and-a-half-long renovation project that finished just in time for winter. The changes made, according to Raymond’s wife, Roberta, are drastic. “We wanted to make it look more like an old-time butcher shop,” she says.

    Little by little, that new aesthetic emerged, with the Turkases running ideas by the family before implementing design choices into the store. Starting from the inside out, updates to the butcher shop were completed after hours, allowing Strip District Meats to remain open largely uninterrupted throughout the day.

    Now, when customers stroll into the shop, they’re transported back to a time when butcheries were located at every neighborhood corner. Dark wood floors complement a charcoal-black drop ceiling and bright light fixtures that hide the old tin design. New signage, designed by Ted Penovich, lines the wall, highlighting the mass amounts of beef, pork, chicken, and specialty and exotic meat products the market has available. Updated showcases clearly and proudly display the meat inside.

    Though anyone familiar with the original shop would recognize the differences immediately within stepping foot into the store, even more was happening behind the scenes. “The average customer wouldn’t see the overall improvement,” says Raymond.

    Newer equipment was installed in the back of the shop in order to improve productivity, and the Turkases hope to add a large freezer in the basement soon. Doing so would free up space upstairs, something that is much needed with the ever-expanding business.

    Before these interior additions are completed, however, the outside will be finished first. Starting in the spring, the side walls will be given the same light, natural faux-brick finish as the front exterior of the store. This last update will complete the work already done to the exterior front of Strip District Meats, which has also included replacing the sidewalk, installing triple-insulated glass for the windows and heavy-duty doors, and putting up a fresh, bright red sign that welcomes locals and out-of-towners alike to the butchery.

    Despite the magnitude of change that has occurred over the last few years, one thing has remained intact since Strip District Meats opened over 50 years ago: their dedication to providing quality products and customer service.

    “Ray will get you whatever you need,” Roberta says. “If we don’t have it, he’ll go out and find it for you. He’ll do his best.”

    It’s that commitment to serving the absolute best meats around that brings in people from all over Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. With a diverse and ever-expanding product line and nostalgic vibe, Strip District Meats will continue to cater to anyone, young or old, for generations to come.

    Kristen Ray is a freelance writer. When she’s not writing or working her day job, she likes to visit the city’s numerous coffee shops or run along its many trails.
    Photography by Greger Erickson