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Food in the Rivertowns

It’s Got That Family Feeling

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July 25, 2022

By Shana Liebman–

Irvington just got “That Family Feeling” — a new hybrid sandwich/butcher shop on Main Street that is a much-needed addition to the village.

As the name suggests, family is the name of the game here. Not only is the business owned by five family members, but they also intentionally set out to create a family-forward shop in a community-oriented town. The earnest neighborhood joint is a place to grab a milkshake, meet a friend for lunch and order a rib-eye for Saturday’s dinner party. They even make kids feel at home with a Bulldog Menu.

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Marty Heller, the patriarch of the family, was introduced to Irvington when his company, Endicott Meats & Poultry, supplied meat to Irvington restaurants Dexter’s Den and the Black Cat. “I realized how good the town is to their small local businesses. What really attracted us was the people and the vibe around here.”

Marty’s son Blake agrees. “From the second we started building it, neighbors would just walk in, give us positive reinforcement, and bring us food. I think that kind of just sold it for us.”

The homey, minimalist space (in the former Dexter’s Den) now serves outrageously good sandwiches, like The Parkway (chicken cutlet, bacon, Swiss) and a dynamite BLT. These sandwiches, including several burgers and a top-notch hot dog, are served on fresh bread with exceptional ingredients and generous condiments.

The Family Philly

Their signature Family Philly Cheesesteak—an appropriately messy yet elevated version of the classic—is packed with thinly sliced steak, sauteed peppers and cheese sauce on a perfectly toasted roll. There’s also a rotating menu of specials like a pastrami on rye that rivals Katz’s. The homemade soups, including matzoh ball and chicken barley, are bursting with the flavor of fresh stock.

That said, this is no regular deli. You can’t order a tuna on wheat, but the Mexican chef who specializes in Jewish deli makes sandwiches, salads and sides with love—and they sing.

This family also cares deeply about safety and quality. “I’d rather send out a product that isn’t very tasty than anything that didn’t pass health and sanitation requirements,” Marty says. And this makes sense considering that Marty’s meat and poultry distribution company catered to high end New York restaurants, while Blake, who started working in the business as a kid, runs his own online butcher business, Blake the Butcher.

In fact, when recent inflation and rising food costs forced many restaurants to scale back portions and increase prices, That Family Feeling’s owners decided instead to pivot the menu— and only offer items that they could afford and stand behind. “We focused more on the burgers and added the shakes and ice cream,” Blake says. “We haven’t raised our prices at all—we just simply switched up a couple of things. You can still get a burger and fries here for $12.95.”

Their strawberry milkshake

This ethic also applies to That Family Feeling’s butcher shop, which only sells the highest quality meat and chicken: Weichsel’s certified angus steaks, Bell & Evans chicken and Berkshire Black pork come from the same wholesaler who supplies Peter Luger and Citarella. “He won’t sell us anything less than certified angus from small farms,” Marty says, noting that their prices are lower than Whole Foods. “We cut out a lot of the middlemen because of my history in the business.”

Jaclyn Juers-Heller, who is married to Blake and is one of the store’s owners, explains that the quality of the protein makes “a huge difference in the taste, the feel, and the way it cooks. Even if you see a Bell & Evans chicken in the grocery store, you don’t know how long it’s been sitting out there. They only buy in mass,” she says, unlike That Family Feeling which aims to order only what their customers need.

Freshly-packaged porterhouse steak

All items on That Family Feeling’s specialty meat menu are usually available within 1-2 days of ordering — and are vacuum sealed in plastic, unlike a traditional butcher shop which uses paper. “This gives our customers a lot more time to figure out what they want to do with it. You don’t have that pressure on you,” Marty says.

The process seems to be working so far. “We’ve gotten a lot of repeat customers in here which means we’re doing something right,” Blake says. “It’s all about putting a smile on people’s faces.”

The Family Feeling Shop & Grill, 100 Main Street, Irvington; 914-231-5347; www.familyfeelingirvington.com; 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday

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