Petty’s Meat Market
Still a family affair – and still Brevard’s specialty food specialist – after 34 years

Back in 1975, Brevard County really did not have a lot when it came to gourmet foods, meat counters that offered more than the average supermarket or vintages for discriminating wine buyers. Food-wise, the area was ripe for an upgrade, and Jerry Pettigrew, who already had invested in a supermarket in St. Cloud, saw it, and so he hired his son, Jay, to come in and help start up a new meat market here. The rest is culinary history on the Space Coast.

Petty’s Meat Market, which now has locations in Suntree and the Orlando area as well as near downtown Melbourne, has been an institution here since 1976. Still family-operated — Jay continues to manage the Melbourne store with sisters Allison is in Longwood and Leigh in Suntree — it is more diverse than ever. Petty’s now offers cold meats and food items prepared on-site; pastries, breads and other baked items; spices, herbs, dips, dressings, condiments and oils; specially blended coffees; and imported products, in addition to meats, wines and cheeses from around the world and catering services.

It has changed and expanded because it serves a clientele grown more refined over the years. “I think consumers as a whole, and our customers in particular, are more knowledgeable about nutrition and more sophisticated in their tastes,” Leigh Pettigrew says.

“We try to carry unique items. We call them epicurean delights,” adds her brother, who says the focus of the markets, their meat departments, really haven’t changed that much over the years, with the availability of custom cutting and the popularity of prepared dishes –Hawaiian chicken is particularly well favored – as well as sausages and now, seafood.

The delicatessen area has expanded greatly however, with Boar’s Head provisions priced to compete with those sold at supermarkets, as well as a variety of salads and hot foods. It is not unusual to see customers lined up at Petty’s counters for lunch, which is sold through 3 p.m. daily, and the post-work crowd loves those meals that require only heating.

“Everybody talks about how the big trend is oven-ready meals. Well, we were doing oven-ready meals years ago, and still are. They’re very big,” Jay Pettigrew says.

So are the products Petty’s people make especially for its stores, like dips and spreads, and the things it has custom-made for them, like flavored premium coffees and salad dressings.

Petty’s also remains a standby for Brevard’s oenophiles, with domestic and imported fine wines that sometimes include the really unusual, like ChocoVine, a combination of Dutch chocolate and red wine that flies off the shelves whenever sommelier Peter Stracco puts it out. Never fear, purists: The fine products of chateaux and vineyards remain the focus of attention, not far from specialty beers, ales and other brews.

It is all the doing of people who really love their business and know how to buy, serve, and cook, well

“I eat a lot of seafood,” Jay Pettigrew says. “I’ll get a piece of tilapia and make it with a caper and lemon sauce.”

His sister laughs. “I will eat anything that isn’t nailed down. I like all food,” she says. “But I think that’s probably the answer (to Petty’s success). We just love food.”

A few of the items that make Petty’s Meat Market unique:

1. Petty’s Special Cheese Ball, its best-selling item of its kind, especially during the holidays. Petty’s Special Cheese Spread is the version for people who can’t or don’t eat nuts.

2. Specialty meats, including German-style items.

3. Homemade beef jerky sticks, which are much like Slim-Jims

4. 25-year-old balsamic olive oil, which sells for about $80 per bottle

5. Smoked salmon spread made on the premises

Sommelier Peter Strazzo on Petty’s best wines:

“It’s hard to say what your ‘best’ wine is, because everyone has his or her personal taste . . . . We try to make very good wines available at very good prices. For example, we have a Masciarelli Montepulciano Classico for less than $20, and a Remy Pannier chenin from the Loire Valley, the same. We have a Marietta Cellars petite syrah that sells for $13.99 . . .  . But of course, we still have the really expensive burgundies, Bordeaux and Champagnes.”