LEO Donati's Carlton butcher shop is an institution both for its operatic tastes and longevity.
But the building that houses his 40-year-old Donati's Fine Meats is up for sale next month for the first time in more than 100 years.
Donati's is only the third commercial premises to be put up for sale in Lygon Street in the past two years - making the retail strip one of the most tightly held in Melbourne.
It is expected to fetch more than $1.5 million.
''The property has been a butcher's premises since the early 1900s,'' said Colliers International selling agent Jeremy Gruzewski.
Despite the retail downturn, only one shop on Lygon Street was for lease, he said.
Leo Donati has no plans to retire despite the potential change and won't be drawn on whether he will bid at the October 19 auction.
He has just signed another five-year lease.
''I like what I do,'' he said. ''Besides I have Philip Glass helping me,'' he says as the American composer's opera Einstein on the Beach played in the background.
The sale of the Donati building is not the only change on the well-known shopping strip.
The widely mooted move of the famed Brunetti cake and coffee shop to new premises at 380 Lygon Street, the location of the now defunct Borders bookshop, has been delayed by time over-runs in the new fitout.
''It's going to happen, we just don't know when,'' said Brunetti owner Fabio Angele.
Mr Angele imported mosaics and specialised cake display cabinets from Italy to decorate what is expected to be one of the largest cafes in Melbourne when complete.
While the retail downturn has bypassed Lygon Street, it may also be less savage as widely perceived in Melbourne's centre, new research shows.
August retail property vacancy rates of 5.1 per cent were similar to those three years ago when the market was healthier, Savills researcher Glenn Lampard said.
''These figures clearly show we have a relatively stable retail leasing market … which doesn't quite jell with the myriad news reports of a retail market in the doldrums,'' Mr Lampard said.
New food and beverage businesses were taking up the slack from retailers, he said.