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She’s one of the boys no more

NOW WHO WILL WE ASK how to cook a pot roast?

The neighborhood’s reigning maven of meat — Mollie Stone’s butcher Lorain Arruabarrena — retired June 1.

For more than three decades, she served up meat and fish and advice on what to do with it, the lone female behind the counter in an almost entirely male industry.

Butchering was in her blood. Her grandfather was a butcher who raised rabbits in Sonoma. She grew up around animals, and spent her time off hunting deer at an otherwise all-male camp up in Lake County she joined in 1956.

Butcher Lorain Arruabarrena

Butcher Lorain Arruabarrena

“I’ve loved to hunt and fish since I was four years old,” she said. “I was always a tomboy. Barbie and Ken didn’t have a chance with me.”

In a profile a few years ago, she acknowledged being a mother figure and mentor to some of the younger men cutting chops at Mollie Stone’s, at 2435 California Street. It helped that she knew how to cook.

“I’m a piece of the furniture at this place,” she said at the time. “I don’t know if I’m a recliner yet.”

Now she knows.

She got sick last fall, but battled her way back to work. She didn’t have the energy to walk across the street to Dino’s for her usual Coke and slice of pepperoni, so she’d take her breaks upstairs in the lunchroom.

“It didn’t feel right,” she said.

She used up her sick leave and vacation time, then filed for retirement in February. She’s been out of the store since April 7, when the doctors decided major surgery was required.

“They cut me from my rib cage down to my bikini line, and down both legs,” she said. “I was scared shitless. But the lady surgeon who did it was very good.”

And it turned out the father of one of her caregivers had been her first boss when she was a young butcher at Petrini’s.

“Now I’m okay,” she said the night of her retirement as she celebrated with her brother and son. “I cooked a roast beef.”

If her health continues to improve, she hopes to start working again part time at the store in the fall.

EARLIER: “One of the boys