BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Eager customers ready to shop at the new K&J House of Meats store on Illinois Avenue prompted company officials to open their doors on May 25.
Business owner Jim Meads said that a ribbon cutting had been contemplated for the last weekend of May in order to officially open the newly constructed store, but so many people were stopping by to see if it was open, he went ahead and began serving customers a little earlier than originally planned.
“While we were still undergoing construction, 20 people a day came in to see if we were open. Finally, at noon on Friday, I said, ‘you know what? Yeah, we’re open. Come on in,’” Meads said. “We never really did a grand opening. We never really did anything to announce that we are here.”
The store’s popularity, especially in Maumee, stems from the success that House of Meats experienced when it was located in The Andersons. Unfortunately, with the closing of The Andersons retail stores in early 2017 came the closing of that House of Meats location, leaving many scrambling for the quality service and specialty items they had come to depend on.
Patrick Kaplan was one of those customers. Although he lives in Sylvania, he works in Maumee and enjoyed shopping there on a regular basis.
“I was bummed when they closed, so I am really glad that this store opened,” he said during a recent shopping trip.
Kaplan welcomes the variety, which he says isn’t available at other stores.
“I was buying meat to make beef jerky and they knew exactly what I needed,” he said. “I thought I needed top round, but they recommended the bottom round, and that’s what I am getting.”
Meads understands his customer base and focuses on bringing popular items to the new store, including seafood, craft beer, wine, meats, cheeses and dips.
“There was so much public support for a location in Maumee that we started moving as quickly as we could to get the store open,” said Meads, “and we have tried to bring in as much personality and high-line items as The Andersons carried, as well.”
The store features a full line of meat, including all-natural pork and chicken, natural grass-fed beef and buffalo, duck and all-natural turkey.
“Our biggest suppliers come out of Detroit and I am very particular about what we purchase,” Meads said. “We are in this for the long haul. It does nobody any favors to sell a shortcut and lower quality.”
He considers the store’s value-added products, such as the marinated chicken breast, stuffed pork chops, gourmet brats, sausages and burgers as its “claim to fame.”
“We do all the prep work for you, so you can just take it home and cook it, plus we give you instructions for how to cook it,” he said.
It took just over one year to acquire the land and construct the 6,300-square-foot building, which is estimated to cost $1.5 million. The property had previously housed Seeger’s body shop, which has been converted to the House of Meats corporate offices. The company employs 125 people, with 40 working at the Maumee location.
Meads’ father, James Meads, opened the first House of Meats in 1972 with his business partner Kenny Lehman. At that time, the store was located at the Southland Shopping Center at the corner of Glendale and Byrne roads in South Toledo. That store eventually moved to a new location on Glendale Avenue near South Detroit. In 1988, the pair opened a second store on Alexis Road. Then, in 1992, they both retired and Meads joined his sister, Kate Horner, in purchasing the company.
The two continued expanding the business, opening a third store on Holland-Sylvania Road in 1996. Then, in 2001, they entered into an agreement with The Andersons to open stores in each of the four Andersons retail locations, beginning with the Maumee store.
“It was certainly a devastating blow to the company when we lost half of our locations with the closing of The Andersons,” said Meads. “But we hit the ground running here and our customers seem very pleased. We have had a lot of positive feedback and we are very glad to be back in Maumee.”
Meads looks forward to future growth and expansion with the business. He is eyeing areas in Sylvania to open another store and will soon implement a full line of all-natural, meat-based pet food products.
In addition to great food, House of Meats also offers home delivery, curbside pickup, knife-sharpening services, a rewards program, weekly specials and suggested recipes.
House of Meats in Maumee is located at 438 Illinois Ave. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
For information, please visit the website at www.houseofmeats.com.