A 128-year-old downtown butcher shop has gotten a makeover — and a new storefront.
Avril-Bleh Meat Market, open since 1894, has moved from its old 850-square-foot location at 33 E. Court St. a few doors down to 37 E. Court St. The new space will eventually span 3,700-square-feet and include a "larger and newer retail shop; a walkup grill room that will replace the tent that’s currently outside on the plaza; and a new meat counter and cooler," per a release from 3CDC, which is renovating the building in which Avril-Bleh is now located.
The meat market's makeover will take place in two phases and the first portion — the new storefront — opened this week after six months of work. It is part of a larger project on the recently revitalized Court Street Plaza called "Avril Lofts," which 3CDC says is a "$5.28 million project that also involves the restoration of four historic buildings, bringing 14 new residential condo units."
Len Bleh, a former Avril-Bleh employee, has owned the meat market for 24 years. He purchased it from the Avril family.
“I’ve been doing this since I was 14,” Bleh says in the release. “I started out the way you do when you’re in a family business — at the bottom — doing dishes, cleaning equipment, wrapping and simple stuff like that.”
He has now been with Avril-Bleh for 50 years, according to 3CDC, and, along with moving storefronts, has also added "more than 20 new varieties of sausages and lunch meats," as well as ready-to-reheat items (mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, chicken pot pies, etc.) and various housemade soups.
“Avril-Bleh Meat Market is an institution in Cincinnati and partnering with Len Bleh to expand and reinvent his space has been really rewarding,” says Sara Bedinghaus, Senior Development Officer at 3CDC. “The enhanced deli and walk-up window will elevate Court Street Plaza and improve lunchtime options for Downtown workers and residents, many of whom are loyal patrons of Avril-Bleh.”
The second phase is slated to open this spring.
Avril-Bleh Meat Market is located at 37 E. Court St., Downtown. More info: avril-blehmeats.com.