By Andrea Nakano

BERKELEY (KPIX) — COVID-19 has forced many large meat-packing plants across the country to shut down after coronavirus outbreaks among workers, leading to fewer products at grocery stores. Some large retailers even implementing a limit on how many meat products you can buy.

But at the Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley, the owners says it been like Christmas for the last month. The shop has been so busy, they had to hire more staff to keep up with the demand.

Even before the store opened, a socially distanced line extended out to the sidewalk.

“I got here as they opened and I had to wait almost 40 minutes to get in,” said customer Stephen Davis.

And there are no meat shortages at the Local Butcher Shop. Owner Aaron Rocchino says it’s mainly because he works with smaller local suppliers and those suppliers still have meat to sell.

“We’ve also been able to help support our farmers in a different way in terms of being able to take the extra meat that they normally would send to restaurants. They don’t have those accounts right now,” said Rocchino.

Not only is there a wait to get into the store, the Local Butcher Shop now has a booming online business as well. Before the pandemic, they would ship out a couple orders a month. Now, they’re handling roughly 50 orders through a delivery service.

“It’s just really nice to feel like we are supporting the neighborhood and the community,” said Rocchino.

He is thankful to be one of the lucky ones with so many businesses struggling to stay open amid the coronavirus pandemic. In his case, working with local farms and being a smaller mom and pop shop have been keys to his customers coming back.

Rick Unruh, a customer says, “It kind of reminds me of back when I was a kid and we had these kind of things.”

Stephen Davis adds, “It’s worth paying the extra bit of money to help these guys and the product you get is awesome.”

Aaron Rocchino says he doesn’t expect to see any meat shortages, even in the future. He says local farms have enough supply to meet the demand.

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