24-year-old behind Center Cuts brings American grill to Manhasset

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BLVD 25 will have high quality meats like Center Cuts, owner Justin Aronoff said. (Photo courtesy of Center Cuts on Instagram)

Over the course of five years, Justin Aronoff has gone from standing behind the counter at a butcher shop to owning his own store along with a catering service. In his latest meat-related entrepreneurial venture, he is opening a restaurant.

BLVD 25, which is planning to welcome its first customers within the next few weeks at the location formerly home to Nick & Pedro’s in Manhasset, will be an American grill, Aronoff said.

Expect high-quality meats in a relaxed setting, he hinted.

When Aronoff opened his butcher shop, Center Cuts, he was 19.

Those who have known him even longer than that – he was a salesman at The Meat House in Roslyn before venturing into his own business – say they see his dedication and charisma as the reasons that now, at 24, he’s becoming a restaurant owner.

“He has work ethic like no other,” said Michael Sheinman, who got to know Aronoff while a customer at The Meat House and has since been a loyal Center Cuts patron. “He’s dedicated to his customers, he’s dedicated to the people that work with him. If there’s 24 hours in a day, he’s working 25.”

Long Island chefs Billy Liebhart and Rob Smith will oversee BLVD 25’s kitchen as executive chef and sous chef, respectively, Aronoff said.

Chef John Brill, a former executive chef at restaurants around Long Island who now serves as a culinary consultant, provided guidance for the restaurant’s development, Aronoff said.

Burgers and sandwiches on the BLVD 25 menu will sit in the $20 range, while house specialties of meats and fishes with vegetable sides will extend upwards of $30.

Salads start with a Caesar at $14 and a selection of sides, including vegetables and French fries, will vary from $8 to $12.

Ryan Weber of Jean-Georges Management, a restaurant group based in Manhattan, will be the general manager and a managing partner. He graduated from Roslyn High School with Aronoff.

Mark Spiegel, who ran Mark of Excellence Distinctive Catering out of Port Washington for 30 years, is coming out of retirement to be a partner in the restaurant, he said.

“I was definitely retired, definitely going to be sticking my toes in every single ocean,” Spiegel said. “Now I’m going to come back, and we’re going to start with the restaurant and see where it goes from there.”

He described Aronoff as the “new young blood” in the local food scene.

Aronoff had worked at butcher shops and restaurants since age 14. After working at The Meat House, its closing motivated him to open his own store, he said.

He doesn’t mention the fact that he was only a teenager when he was developing his own business and facing hurdles in opening the shop. He grew up in Roslyn, and people knew him from The Meat House. He had a great following from the outset, he said.

“Every customer would come in just looking to meet me and shake my hand, and they were all just very proud to see a small business with someone young behind it,” he recalled.

Still, he has learned much more since then, he said.

He was working seven-day weeks and realized about five months in what he’d really taken on and that it was taking off, he said. He started working even harder.

Three years later, Center Cuts expanded into catering, visiting homes with chefs and servers.

Now, catering for cocktail parties is more common than barbecues, Aronoff said, and on summer weekends the company typically sends out five catering crews a day.

“He’s…a very charismatic guy, so that helps with customer service,” said Louis Monarchio, who used to work behind the counter with Aronoff at The Meat House. “He wants everyone to be satisfied with the products, and he’s always trying to get the best quality meat.”

Years into his own business that has expanded far beyond a meat counter, Aronoff is still a constant presence at Center Cuts.

“He’s always there to greet you, always there to talk to you,” Sheinman said.

One time, when Sheinman called saying he would not be able to make it to the shop before it closed, Aronoff dropped the meat off at his home, he said.

“His track record serves as a foundation for what the future holds,” Sheinman said. “I mean, he’s been very successful with his butcher store, he’s extremely successful with the catering business. I think the success will follow.”

An earlier version of this story said Aronoff grew up in Manhasset and that the Caesar salad would be $17. 

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