Over the past decade or so, neighborhood groceries—with quality meat, pantry staples, prepared foods, and produce—have disappeared. Sunshine Fine Foods and Mairose in Hyde Park, Bracke’s in Mt. Lookout—all closed due to competition from upscale chains, their owners’ retirement, or both. And if not for a stroke of good timing, Hyde Park Fine Meats & Catering would have suffered the same fate. After longtime owner Joe Panzeca passed away in April 2013, his family was preparing to shut down the business when in walked John Ness. Ness, an executive chef, and his wife, a hospitality professional, were moving to Cincinnati after realizing their bi-continental work arrangement—summers on Mackinac Island, winters in Europe—wasn’t conducive to raising two kids. He bought the place, refreshed the interior, and quickly turned his culinary expertise to updating the menu of prepared food: mac–and-cheese, lasagna, housemade desserts, and a daily “family meal” that might include short ribs and truffle mashed potatoes. The store is still known for its bone-in rib eyes and succulent beef tenderloin—roasted and sliced, if you’d like. “Joe’s legacy continues,” Ness says. “People don’t want traditions to die. This place is a tradition for the neighborhood.”
Hyde Park Fine Meats & Catering, 3645 Paxton Ave., Hyde Park, (513) 321-4328
Originally published in the January 2014 issue.