Long-time local Jason Bullington takes over iconic Albert’s Meat Market and Deli—the only place to process a deer in Bridgeport
There is only one place in Mono County to have your deer processed, and that’s at Albert’s Meat Market and Deli on Main Street in Bridgeport.
The shop was owned and operated for about twenty years by Albert Pegorare, and was recently taken over by long-time Bridgeport local Jason Bullington, following Pegorare’s death this past year.
Bullington first met Pegorare when he worked at the General Store as a high school student in the late eighties. At the time, Pegorare ran the deli and cut meat. Bullington said it was Pegorare who taught him the art of making a good sandwich. “He had this story about how we were long-lost cousins by marriage,” said Bullington, who never found out if that was true, but said Pegorare treated him like family.
Bullington went on to work at Buster’s Market, where he apprenticed under a butcher and learned to cut meat. He also learned to process and skin deer there, which he said typically involved using a truck, a chain, a very smooth rock, and a large pole or tree.
Bullington moonlighted as a bartender and eventually as the manager at Rhino’s Bar and Grille for almost thirty years. In 2012, he opened his own restaurant, called J’s On the Corner.
In 2012, Bullington was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. Bullington said the labor required to run a one-man restaurant grew to be hard on his body, and he closed the space. While he was open, he was proud to be the place locals went to grab a beer after work at 4 p.m., but, “I’m not one to do anything half-way,” said Bullington, who has been living with the disease since. He said his last treatment was successful.
When Pegorare died last year, Bullington, like others in town, felt his absence profoundly. “He was a big man, and a character. He was a real old-timer, and he kept a loaded shotgun mounted on the wall of the shop, above the deli counter,” said Bullington, who has done away with that particular tradition. Bullington said that customers often tell him stories about Pegorare and kind things he did for them. He is often tasked with telling friends and customers of Albert’s death.
When Bullington purchased the business in the spring, the first thing he did was to give it a deep clean and bring in new products. He donated a chest full of frozen meat to the church. Like Pegorare, he sources most of his meat through the Reno-based company Sierra Meat and Seafood.
Bullington said that, after Pegorare’s death, several community members approached him, asking if he would take over the business. After Buster’s Market closed, Pegorare single-handedly facilitated an economic boom every deer season by providing hunters with a place to have their deer processed in Bridgeport. Jim Reid, owner of Ken’s Sporting Goods, said that if hunters don’t have a place to store a carcass locally, they’ll leave the area. “Having a place like this to process meat locally cuts down on waste and keeps people in town,” said Reid.
When asked why he chose to take over the business, Bullington said, “I did it because I thought it would be good for the community, for all of us, and for Albert.” As a bartender, he saw first-hand how much a good deer season boom could do for year-round locals. “To get a group of people staying in town, buying beers every night, going out to eat, during a time that is usually slow? That’s huge,” said Bullington this week.