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The “Old Fashion Butcher Shop”

The exterior of the Old Fashion Butcher Shop located on Steinway Street. The business has operated continuously since 1981. Astoria, Queens, April 20, 2022. Photo by Stephanie Lemesianou

Walking along the streets of New York’s multicultural Astoria, one is likely to come across a variety of national flags hanging from apartment balconies, restaurants and storefront windows. One local butcher shop is absolutely adorned with them.

 The flags of Greece, Albania, Cyprus, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay and Italy are but a few embellishing the “Old Fashion Butcher Shop,” reflecting the diversity of its employees but also its customers. Located on Steinway Street, the shop was established in 1981 by Greek immigrant John Kukularis, whose family has been in the business for five generations.

 “It’s international. We want everybody to feel welcome and to come buy meat,” Kukularis, 73, said.

 When Kukularis first opened the shop, Astoria had three times the number of butcher shops that can be found there today. While the culture has changed and supermarkets have been challenging local stores, the butchers of the “Old Fashion Butcher Shop” take great pride in their achievements and the friendship they have built with their customers and each other.

 According to Cypriot immigrant Nikos Nikolaou, who is the longest working employee of the shop, the success of the business depends on the relationship between butcher and customer.

 ‘A supermarket might have cheaper meat, but it doesn’t have Nicky. You take the meat and you go. Here, I’ll say thank you, good morning, how are you and I’ll make you want to come back again,” he said.

 A staple in the community, the shop promises quality meat, good prices and a daily dose of good old-fashioned heart and soul.

George (left) from Albania and Nicky (right) from Cyprus, embrace while working at the Old Fashion Butcher Shop. They have been friends for over 11 years.”The friendship here is one of the best things,” George said. Astoria, Queens, April 20, 2022. Photo by Stephanie Lemesianou

A soccer game loudly playing on the TV, fridges filled with raw meat and fresh flowers are among the things to be found inside the Old Fashion Butcher Shop in Astoria, Queens, May 2, 2022. Photo by Stephanie Lemesianou

John Kukularis, 73, is the owner of the shop. According to him, they sold over 1,000 lambs for Greek Orthodox Easter. “I work seven out of seven days. I’m trying to find the eighth day,” he said. Astoria, Queens, 20 April, 2022. Photo by Stephanie Lemesianou

On Mother’s Day morning, customers wait in line to purchase meat from the Old Fashion Butcher Shop in Astoria, Queens, May 8, 2022. Photo by Stephanie Lemesianou.

An assortment of used butcher knives hangs on the wall of the Old Fashion Butcher Shop in Astoria, Queens, May 8, 2022. Photo by Stephanie Lemesianou

Giovanni, the Italian butcher, brings out a lamb from the back fridge and prepares to cut it in front of customers at the Old Fashion Butcher Shop in Astoria, Queens, May 8, 2022. Photo by Stephanie Lemesianou

Multiple rows of drying, cylindrical sausages hang on racks at the Old Fashion Butcher Shop in Astoria, Queens, April 20, 2022. Photo by Stephanie Lemesianou

George chats with a Greek customer while he takes down his order at the Old Fashion Butcher Shop in Astoria, Queens, May 8, 2022. Photo by Stephanie Lemesianou

Giovanni pushes a cart of boxes towards the meat fridges at the Old Fashion Butcher Shop in Astoria, Queens, May 8, 2022. Photo by Stephanie Lemesianou

Schedules, post-it notes and photos of precious memories shared by the butchers adorn the wall of the Old Fashion Butcher Shop in Astoria, Queens, April 28, 2022. Photo by Stephanie Lemesianou

Peter (left) and George (right), both originally from Albania, prepare late afternoon orders side by side at the Old Fashion Butcher Shop in Astoria, Queens, May 2, 2022. Photo by Stephanie Lemesianou.

Flags from different countries wave above the entrance of the Old Fashion Butcher Shop in Astoria, Queens, May 2, 2022. Photo by Stephanie Lemesianou