On Saturday butcher Terry Wright will call time on the Randwick butcher's shop he opened in 1959.
For just a click under 60 years, Wright has been the meat maestro to food stars and locals alike, but following the closure last week of Leichhardt's AC Butchery it's clear the Sydney butcher's shop is an increasingly endangered species. "There used to be eight on Clovelly Road, I'm the last one," Wright says.
The industry veteran, who still lives above his pristine shop, argues there are many factors behind the decline of the local butcher. "When I started out not as many people had cars, so they'd support their local shops more. And there was no competition from supermarkets like there is today," he explains.
Wright believes the hard graft and early starts have contributed to perhaps his biggest hurdle of recent years, finding and keeping staff. Michael Bennett, the CEO of Hospitality Training Network, says there were "1100 people undertaking a butchery apprenticeship across NSW in 2011, now that figure is 492." He says the removal of a raft of financial incentives for apprentices and subsidies for taking on apprentices over the age of 21 are among the issues the industry is facing. "Interestingly, butchery was voted the happiest trade," Bennett says.
Wright, who was added to the Sydney Food Hall of Fame in 2005, says Sydneysiders had different tastes in meat when he started out in 1950s. He sold a lot more offal back then, and many customers ate meat three meals a day. "You'd find them waiting outside at 6.30 in the morning to get chops for breakfast," he recounts.
You'll still be able to buy Wright's meat from his son Clayton, who has beefed up a retail section at his wholesale meat operation at 73 Burrows Road in Alexandria – from where he supplies many of Sydney's leading restaurants and exports meat to the US. The usually ever-present Terry Wright intends to skip the emotional rollercoaster of his last day of trade, spending Saturday with his family down the coast.