A cut above
When most customers think about butcher shops, succulent meals come to mind — a thick steak sizzling on the grill; a Sunday pot roast with onions, potatoes and carrots; smoky, savory housemade sausages; or a sweet, tender, delicately smoked ham or turkey for the holidays.
Is your mouth watering yet?
These days you’ll find accommodating butchers in most supermarkets who will help you find that special cut or custom trim and tie a roast for you.
Certainly, the variety of meats and seafoods is much greater than in the days of mom-and-pop grocery stores.
But there’s something of an old-world charm in a butcher shop that specializes in quality meats, that emphasizes personal service, and has butchers who also can provide expert advice for the home chef.
An area favorite since 1999, The Butcher Shop is located in Eagle Point at 1532 S. Shasta Ave.
Brian Stofflet bought out his partner of 22 years in November. He and his wife, Stacy, run the operation with a crew of nine employees.
Stacy says feedback from customers is one of the most satisfying aspects of the job.
“We love hearing great stories of how satisfied customers are with our products and service,” she said. “They like our variety of meats, from our ground beef to our dry-aged ribeyes.”
Although it’s primarily a meat market and known for that, the shop stocks some grocery items, freshly baked breads, specialty items, fresh fruit and produce, and local wine and beers. They also sell 100% natural, all-meat dog food.
The service is often appreciated as much as the meats they sell. One customer called the shop to inquire about the availability of hanger steak to grill for a special occasion.
There is only one hanger steak per animal, which explains why they are rarely seen in most meat cases.
The Butcher Shop ordered the prized cut of beef, trimmed the silver skin and excess fat, and had three beautiful filets ready for the customer two days later. He was pleased and so were his guests, the customer reported.
“Our biggest sellers are our prime grade ribeye, our 85% ground chuck, and fresh seafood,” Stofflet said.
“Also popular are our made-to-order, in-house smoked products, which include bacon, jerky, salami, pepperoni, lunch meats and smoked hams and turkeys for the holidays,” she said.
There are some pretty wild items on the list of meats available.
“We’ve sold rattlesnake, not available anymore, as well as camel, emu, ostrich, kangaroo and alligator,” she said.
The business also offers in-house meat processing.
A neighborhood butcher shop at 986 Cherry St., in Medford, Cherry Street Meats has been serving the community there since 1990.
It had its beginnings in 1981 as Cherry Street Meats and Emerson Distributing, providing quality meats to restaurants and the public. A two-generation business, it prides itself on its customer service, the quality of its products, and competitive pricing.
Cherry Street Meats sells beef, pork, lamb, veal and poultry, as well as house-made sausages.
At 175 N. First St., in Central Point, Montgomery’s Meats was established in 2009 in Weed, California, where the company still has a processing operation.
The store sells Cedar River all-natural beef, Carlton Farms natural pork, Smart Chicken, specialty sausages, and offers in-house smoking of a variety of meats.
“We take pride in our wide selection of quality products,” Shauna Mont-gomery said. “All of the products we offer are from trusted brands.”
The company expanded in 2014 when it purchased Jerry’s Custom Meat Processing of Central Point. It soon will offer mobile slaughter services, according to its website.
It’s been an interesting journey for Robert and Alisa Holland, owners of Southern Oregon Fine Meats.
The company started out as Bert’s Custom Butchering. The couple bought a building in 2011 to add a full-service, old-fashioned retail meat shop.
Then in recent years, the on-the-farm slaughter and custom processing end of the business grew so much, they decided to close the retail shop and concentrate on building the other side of the business.
“With few other processors in the Rogue Valley, it just made good business sense to close down retail,” Alisa Holland said.
“During the pandemic, we became an even more essential business. More people started raising their own animals with the meat shortage scare, and business boomed,” she said.
Employees were hard to come by during the period and it was difficult to keep up with the demand.
“We worked very hard with a small crew to keep up with the farm butch-ering demand as best we could,” she said. “At that point, we were so grate-ful to be out of the retail business.”
The company does a lot of game processing and fish smoking too. Customers bring their game and catches, and they’re turned into a variety of smoked products, sausages, brats and hotdogs.
Robert Holland’s first job in 1980 was at a slaughter plant in John Day, where he learned the art of meat cutting and butchering.
Today Southern Oregon Fine Meats is a family business.
Oldest son Brady formulates, grinds and stuffs a variety of sausages, is in charge of inventory, and oversees completion of customer orders.
Youngest son Connor operates the kill truck and is learning to be a meat cutter.
“Two of our employees have been with us eight-plus years,” Alison said, “which truly makes this a family business.”
She sees a bright future for the company.
“Farm butchering is not going away,” she said. “People will continue to raise animals to put food on their table and the tables of friends, family and those in need.”
June through January are the busiest times of the year for Southern Oregon Fine Meats, and August is the beginning of the wild game season.