Wiste's Meat Market has grand opening this week
By Janet Kubat Willette
Date Modified: 07/09/2012 3:10 PM
JANESVILLE, Minn. — Janesville's downtown is busy this Wednesday morning as a beer truck makes it delivery and cars line both sides of the street.
Inside Wiste's Meat Market, Megan Foels is preparing the grocery order while her brother, Mitch, and boyfriend, Ryan Landkammer, work behind the meat counter.
An elderly gentleman climbs out of his pickup and walks with his cane into Wiste's, located in the heart of downtown.
He's greeted by a member of the Foels family when he enters the store and pulls out a cart to hold his purchases. When he's done shopping, Megan rings up his purchases, bags them and carries them outside to his unlocked pickup. After putting the groceries in the passenger side and shutting the door, she walks back up to the gentleman, who waited on the sidewalk.
They've chatted nearly all the while and both part with smiles.
Tammy Foels, Megan and Mitch's mother, wants Wiste's to be like "Cheers" bar, where everybody knows your name. She emphasizes customer service to keep people coming back to the small town meat market with groceries.
Tammy and her husband, Bruce, farm and have a construction business. They were looking to further diversify last fall when they learned Wiste's was for sale. A relative suggested they convert the space into a duplex. They looked at the building and mulled a decision. On Dec. 1, they bought the building with the intention of continuing the 90-year tradition of Wiste's and creating living space upstairs in the old Odd Fellows Lodge.
"This was just another diversification," said Tammy (nee Sheehy), a Janesville native. The family now lives between Janesville and Waseca.
The community support they've received has been phenomenal, Tammy said.
People come from not only Janesville, but also Eagle Lake, Madison Lake, Waseca and points further afar to purchase fresh meats at Wiste's meat counter.
"We're very grateful," Tammy said. "Our boss is the person who walks in the door."
Just after the new year, the Foels started remodeling. They installed new flooring throughout and have finished installing cedar paneling in one half the store. They also added a recessed cooper ceiling and moved the meat counter forward. They put in lighted glass shelves they purchased from a Mankato business that was remodeling. The work has been done after hours and on Sundays, Tammy said.
Oliver Wiste started the downtown meat market in 1920. His son Bob and grandson Ron followed him in the family business. Ron sold the business eight years ago and two short-term owners followed. It wasn't the right fit for them, Tammy said.
The Foels, however, have a vision for the downtown landmark. Son Matt, trained in building design, drew the plans for the remodel. Son Mitch loves hunting and fishing and studied sales and marketing; he's using those skills in managing the meat counter. Daughter Megan is studying mass
communications and public relations at Minnesota State-Mankato; she is managing the grocery area and is often found behind the counter at the front of the store.
"It's kind of neat getting to know the regulars," Megan said of the people who come in daily to pick up just a few things.
Employees include: Donna Wiebold, Garrett Burgess, Jan Prail, Carl Hughes, Kevin Thooft, Teresa Blaisdale, Zak Hagen, and Tyler Otting.
Tammy speaks proudly of her old hometown, hailing its locally owned bank, independent pharmacy and thriving downtown. They're just four blocks off the Highway 14 bypass, she said, and just north of the town's flashing red light at the intersection of Main Street and old Highway 14.
"It's a thriving small town," Tammy said.
Their customers range from young to old.
"People are excited about the fresh meat," she said.
Mitch and Ryan are already creating a name for themselves in the meat business with their new recipes. Their Colorado jerky took first place at the Minnesota Association of Meat Processors annual show and their bacon and beef sticks placed in the top 10.
That ignited their fire to continue, Tammy said, and reinforced their idea that they could run a meat market.
The duo have created gummy worm brats, which have sweet pockets where the worms melt, and firehouse brats for those who crave brats that are hot-hot-hot. They also have some of Ron Wiste's favorites on the shelf, including tri-tip steak, a cross between a roast and steak with special
seasoning. They have 16 brat choices, everything from a beer brat and a wild rice brat to a blueberry brat and Philly cheese steak brat.
They offer meat bundles ranging in price from $50 to $450. They sell eight deli salads and other processed meats. The also do custom processing and have a smokehouse.
"It's a one-of-a-kind meat market," Tammy said.