Schenectady butcher expands halal offerings

A second halal butcher has opened on Broadway.

A second halal butcher has opened on Broadway.

But this one is twice as large, and its owner has obtained the valuable state permit to slaughter goats and sheep as well as poultry. A halal butcher prepares the meat in accordance with Islamic law.

It was a dream come true for Shareeze Alli, who has spent the last 16 years building up to this point.

Her father was a poultry butcher in Guyana and she always intended to run her own business. But when she came to the United States, she found a world that did not welcome new butcher businesses until they had been thoroughly regulated and inspected.

“It took me 16 years over here to be who I am,” she said Friday at the grand opening of Abduallah Halal at 824 Broadway. “When you leave your country, you have to start over. And things are done differently — in my country you want to open a store, you open a store. Sure, you have to get a license — so you go and pay for a license.”

Here it takes quite a bit more than just writing a check, as Alli found out.

A butcher shop with goats and sheep can only be located in a heavy industrial zone in Schenectady — and there are not many vacant buildings in the small HI zones.

Alli found one, near the new Department of Social Services building, and spent a year convincing the owner to sell. At the same time, she started filling out applications for butcher permits from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

She got the permits in August and the building in September. It took another four months to turn it into an inspection-approved butcher shop.

She was hoping to open by Nov. 28, Korbani Eid, a Muslim feast day. If she had been able to butcher goats then, she said, she likely would have gone through 100 to 200 for that holiday alone.

Another 60 to 80 would have been sold for Christmas, if she had been open.

But it took much longer than expected to hang the chains, build the cages, erect the many slaughter tables and pass the requisite inspections. Now she’s stuck in the doldrums of winter, with six weeks before the next big holiday. Phagwah, the annual Hindu spring festival, is on March 1.

Until then, she’ll probably only sell three to 10 goats a week. Much of the regular business will be poultry and fish.

“It will be tough for two months, but I’m not worried,” she said.

Her main competition, the Live Poultry Market just half a block away, is worried. Terry Jagiah isn’t sure there’s enough fresh-meat eaters to keep two butchers in business.

“There’s not enough business, that’s the truth,” he said. “The business is slow and so many are out of work.”

Alli is more confident.

“I have a better variety. I have a grocery. I have fish,” she said.

Her grocery will sell packaged sheep and goat meat because most buyers won’t want to purchase an entire animal. A goat can weigh up to 130 pounds, she said.

Many buyers will also skip the liver and other organs, which she will sell at the grocery.

Some Guyanese were enthusiastic to hear of a butcher that has goats and sheep.

“That’s what we need,” said Butch Persaud, who was buying a fresh chicken at the Live Poultry Market. “That’s what we had in Queens. We like the fresh stuff.”

The new butcher is open daily.

Categories: Schenectady County

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