When you walk in the backdoor of Herb’s Market, whether on a perfect summer day or in the dead of winter, the smell of Thanksgiving permeates the air. It comes from the roasted stuffed chickens and famous fried chickens that are cooked daily at the Montauk market. Joe Ferraro, the new owner, doesn’t plan on changing a thing, except, perhaps, to add a few more precooked items.
Mr. Ferraro bought the business in December but started working there as an apprentice under the previous owners, Gillian Mooney and Lucille Lenahan, in July. He watched and learned and is making a few slight changes, he said on Sunday. His parents, Carl and Diane Ferraro, are helping him find his way in the business and have been seen recently stocking shelves and sweeping the old wood floors.
He found it useful, however, to take over during the winter months when business slowed and allowed him to meet the locals and learn the ropes. “It’s been all positive feedback. It’s been great getting to know everyone,” he said.
What Mr. Ferraro noticed in summer is that people, especially those on vacation, don’t like to wait on sandwich lines. So he plans on adding prewrapped sandwiches and wraps for those on the go, starting soon. The staff of about 8 will jump to 10 in the summer months, but all the old faces will remain.
He spent his younger years visiting delis owned by his grandfather, who was a butcher in Brooklyn. He has learned the most, though, about cutting up meat from Ms. Mooney and Herb Herbert, the market’s namesake, who owned it for many years before the two women took over. Mr. Herbert still owns the building.
Since he was a boy, Mr. Ferraro spent summers in Montauk. He worked in finance in Manhattan for 10 years, and crunching numbers, he said, has come in handy as a business owner. “It all comes full circle.”
This past winter he decided to close at 4 p.m. on weekdays because he noticed after the lunch rush was over that only three or so customers would come in, and it wasn’t worth it financially to keep everything going. His hours will expand come the warmer weather, with a closing time of 7 p.m. in the height of summer.
As the owner, his job encompasses a little bit of everything, but he’s the main butcher, which he’s getting used to, he said, adding, “There are worse jobs than that.”
This year was his first as a deli owner for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, which drew a crowd of up to 35,000 people. He hired security, which was needed, he said. “I think it was my first and last parade.” He might be closed for next year’s.