ST. PETERSBURG — You may have thought he was George.
He wasn't. He was Nick.
But he never corrected you. And he never minded.
The name wasn't important. The meat was.
Nick Mevoli, the longtime owner of George's Meat Market on Haines Road, died April 11. He was 86.
Mr. Mevoli took over George's Meat Market in 1971 after more than 40 years working and running butcher shops in New Jersey. He never changed the name of the store.
"He was an artist," said Mr. Mevoli's son, Larry Mevoli, who now runs the market. "He could get the most percentage out of any of the meat cuts and make it look nice."
The youngest of eight brothers and sisters, Mr. Mevoli joined a small clan of family butchers before he was 10.
He learned the business from a Russian immigrant and Orthodox Jew in Camden, N.J.
"We all started when we were young," he told the Times in a 1990 profile. "(My teacher) came over from Russia. His mother and father died young in the Bolshevik Revolution. They smuggled him, and he opened up a meat store. And that's where I learned it."
In a world where chain stores grew in popularity, Mr. Mevoli persisted in the belief that there was always a role for the neighborhood butcher.
His son remembers hearing stories about Mr. Mevoli handpicking his beef (he used the same beef producer made famous in the movie Rocky while in New Jersey).
And even in his last years, when his memory had failed him, Mr. Mevoli could always remember how to butcher meat. It was his gift.
His last work with the knife came a little less than two years ago, his son said. He trimmed some pork for his homemade Sicilian sausage. And he trimmed some steaks.
Mr. Mevoli liked to bowl and loved baseball. But, really, he was about meat, his son Larry said. Butchering put his other son, Paul, through dental school. Butchering kept his family together.
"I learned everything from him," Larry Mevoli said. "He was my mentor and my guide. In the four walls of that store, even I got yelled at if I did something wrong. He was very particular about how things worked and how they should work."
That's the only way George's would ever stand out, Nick Mevoli would tell his son.
"Meat cutting is a dying thing," Mr. Mevoli told the Times in 1990. "Small butcher shops are going by the wayside — even up north. I'll miss it."