The Butcher Family’s People Traveled Miles To Shop, Which Is Closing After Nearly 50 Years

You don’t have to be in the company of Maureen and David Lush long to realize why they’ve been on the high street for so long. The elderly and most gracious couple invite me to their quaint garden in the center of Penarth, which is filling with colour, and I am immediately treated to a coffee and cake.

David Lush concludes after 50 years in which the family has made a name for themselves across South Meczyki. In an interview with WellsOnline, David, his wife Maureen, and one of their sons, Marcus, explained all the reasons why they were calling it a day – including the enormous pressures facing small businesses.

“It’s been hard to admit, but it’s the right time,” Maureen admitted, getting a little emotional. She’s convinced that kindness and a good product are enough to keep a small business operating for years, but she doesn’t envy those starting in an era where small businesses face more obstacles than ever before – And probably nothing more than a traditional butcher.

Maureen, now 77 years old and recovering from open heart surgery that effectively ended her time with the business late last year, tells me a story that reflects her family’s approach to life. incorporates. This is one of his favorite memories.

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“One Christmas a woman was on the street at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve,” she began to grumble, recounting the story. “She was quite old. She said: ‘Mrs. Lush, you haven’t brought me Christmas meat dear. I ordered a turkey leg and it didn’t come.’ ‘Oh dear’, I said. And I remember these women very well – they had an almost Victorian style about them. I said: ‘Look, I don’t know where my husband and the boys are, I guess That they’ve gone to drink. So I’ll cut a leg off my turkey and I’ll bring it to you.’ ‘Oh no,’ he said. ‘I couldn’t possibly allow that.’ But I couldn’t rest if he didn’t get the leg he asked for.

“It’s the little things that stick with me. I always said to the boys, when bringing them into the store: ‘You always treat everyone the same – whether they want two sausages or a whole fillet.’

“The employees have been as loyal to us as are the customers. We have made great friends with many of them over the years. I think people appreciated us.”

David Lush entered the Washington Buildings premises in Penarth with a loan of only £3,000, but turned it into a roaring success lasting nearly 50 years
(Image: WellsOnline / Rob Brown)

David, now 79, spent a lot of time in the shop just a walk from his home until he sold it last month, but packed it up for Maureen’s care. “She needed my support and I need to be here for her now,” he said. “It’s not just that – I ran out of energy. It’s a tough industry now. I’d be doing it even if I was younger.”

“It’s all my fault,” laughed Maureen, “but then – it was my fault that we started the business in 1975.”

Maureen, then a nurse in Cardiff, met David at a bar on the city’s Esplanade, where they now spend several afternoons together in their sixties. David, a butcher’s boy, began working at sea like his father when he was 15, qualified through a naval cooking school and became chief cook—which he did for a decade.

“I didn’t see the point of working at sea and getting married,” David recalled. “I had seen my father do this and when he and my mother were together, it was all ups and downs.”

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Shop on Glebe Street, 1992
(Image: WellsOnline / Rob Brown)
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Despite its success, the shop was not immune to the great difficulties the High Street now faces.
(Image: WellsOnline / Rob Brown)

“I didn’t want him to be at sea either,” Maureen said. “I went to the butcher in the Washington Building” [in Penarth town centre] One day the butcher told Ian Large, that he was looking a little down in the mouth.

“He told me he wanted to sell and build the house instead. Then I told him to come over to the house to talk to David about getting the job done. It was really the excitement of the moment. When it actually happened I thought: ‘Oh my god – I know nothing about cutting meat.’ But David has taught me well.

“I only got involved for 18 months and then I was about to go back to nursing. But I’ve been involved since. I really did everything except cut sausage. They tried and told me to do it, but I Couldn’t link them up and we ended up with a giant sausage – yards of the stuff.

“I never would have thought it would go the way it did,” laughed David, recalling the day he borrowed £3,000 from the bank to lease. “I told Ian I didn’t know much about it and so he agreed to be with me for a year and we made it from there.

“To be honest, it was non-stop from the beginning. I was lucky that I think there was such a demand for meat. In the first week we took over £800 – a lot then.

“It lasted six years while we were there, and then we went to Glebe Street to take the bigger building and expand. I bought it for £45,000.”

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Washington Building, site of his first shop in Penarth Town Center
(Image: WellsOnline / Rob Brown)

It wasn’t all rosy though, Maureen says. “We had a heatwave on our second summer in 1976 – certainly no one had barbecue back then and so no one was buying. Because the building was so small I was making pasties and Scotch eggs at home and driving these trays to David to sell.

“I was wondering how we would survive because we would put everything on line for the shop. But we adapted. Things haven’t changed much, you still have to adapt.”

By the time they moved to the Glebe Street building in 1981, there were 14 butchers in Penarth. “Of course it would be unheard of now,” said David. “But there was such an appetite for meat and there were not so many restaurants.”

Marcus recalled: “Every store was an independent business. There were delis, fishmongers, greengrocers, butchers, veg shops, bakers – and there was also a huge Woolworths that the kids loved.

“If you go out for food it was once in a Blue Moon because it was expensive. Now you can go to pubs and eat quite cheaply. This has affected independent business and the appetite for good produce.”

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Marcus Lush, who is now in Canton with Oriel Jones, says life is too quiet
(Image: WellsOnline / Rob Brown)

Marcus highlights the difficulties currently facing a typical high street butcher. While he is sad the town center butcher – now a pantry – will no longer bear the family name, he acknowledges that there is a sense of relief that he is no longer “waking up in the middle of the night”.

“It was getting really tough towards the end,” he explained. “We used to have trouble getting staff all the time. I think now it has become very easy for people to stay at home.

“I used to go to job centers and call recruitment agencies offering jobs, and people would not even come for interviews. We were posting about job vacancies on social media and I could see it reached over 5,000 people, and even then we might have had some backlash – usually asking if we could give them cash. Or if they can only do 16 hours a week.

“Then the pandemic came along and people were paid to stay at home and that was then, they didn’t want to come to work on the high street.”

As costs went up across the board, they eventually had no choice but to raise their prices. “The meat has risen like everything else—probably the most it’s ever had,” Marcus said.

“In January you could get a big free range chicken for 10 pounds, but now it’s twice that. This is partly happening in Ukraine and Russia, which produce about 40% of the grain.

“If you are in the meat business you are dependent on fuel and that has increased. We relied on European workers at £15 an hour to deliver the meat, but many of them have returned to their home countries and are replaced by the British. Drivers have taken who want £25 per hour. All of that comes back to the retailer and then to the customer.

“In March we had to start raising prices. We should have done this a long time ago but we thought people had enough to worry about Christmas.

“Sometimes customers understand – especially loyal ones. Sometimes we used to get negative comments about it. We sometimes got: ‘Jesus Christ, 20 bucks for a chicken?’ I think most people understood why.

“We had a large German oven that we relied on that would sometimes require a portion from Europe, and it would take 12 weeks because of the delay. It all adds up.”

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Marcus serving a customer during the pandemic
(Image: Getty Images)

When he announced his decision, he received many messages of goodwill from people in the city and across Britain. “I think people were shocked,” Maureen said. “But unfortunately this is what we are growing up with and it is not the same as it was before. The boys tried their best.

“It’s got emotional. I struggle to speak about it. It’s the customers who make me emotional just thinking about them over the years.”

“They’ve become great friends. I’ve known many of them since they were kids and then they came to see us with their kids. That’s what I’ll miss the most.”

“I will miss giving young people – young parents recipes to help them with cooking, and they come over every week for new tips. It’s so much more than just selling meat. I think we’ve got people to do their homework.” Helped in life.”

In times unprecedented for the High Street, is it possible to reflect on their longevity? “I think it is,” said David. “Things change. We have had our own trouble. Foot and mouth and swine flu were bad for the industry. Now we have all this going on with grains etc and you have to try and bear some of the cost because you yourself Can’t price to. You have to adapt and get by.

“I don’t think there’s a secret — it’s about producing quality every day. You can’t cut corners.

“All the wholesalers knew me – they knew that if they gave me trash they would return it straight away. You need quality products and the ability to give people what they want, and you can do that for as long as you can.” Till then people will travel to see you.

“We really became a destination. A lot of our loyal customers weren’t the Penarth people. I’ve never advertised in my life, it was all mouth-watering.”

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Maureen says she gets emotional thinking about customers and how much she will miss them
(Image: WellsOnline / Rob Brown)

“It couldn’t have been done without the family unit, though,” Marcus said. “It wouldn’t have survived if we weren’t so invested.” You can stay updated with the best places to eat in Meczyki by signing up to our food and drink newsletter.

Marcus is now working at Oriel Jones in Canton while Sean is at Valley Deli in Cardiff City Centre. While saying goodbye to a venture has been a constant in his life, Marcus is sure his family has made the right decision.

“It’s a real shame that it’s no longer in the family name, but it’s probably been for the best,” he said. “It is a difficult time for retail. Where I’m working now, I’ve been told by others how happy I am to do things that some don’t want to do. I’m happy, just going in and doing my best and then coming home, and I don’t worry about things anymore. ,

What will David and Maureen do now that they have so much time? “I’m going down the beach for a walk,” says David with delightful certainty, not looking too far ahead.

“We’re going to enjoy life,” Maureen said. “We’re going to travel around the UK and see more of Meczyki, Scotland and go to Ireland too. I think we probably deserved that.”

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