A Hugo butcher, who started in the business when he was a kid, is making his mark with 110 flavors of bratwurst.
Banana Cream Pie. Turkey Stuffing and Gravy. S’mores. Clam and Bacon. Peanut Butter and Jelly.
Want to hear more bratwurst flavors?
Blueberry Cheddar. Peach Mango. Caramel Apple. Crab and Butter.
We could go on.
Whiskey Peppercorn. Sour Cream and Onion. Chili Cheese Jalapeño.
OK, that’s 12, leaving 98 other brat flavors at Grundhofer’s Old-Fashion Meats in Hugo. Most are available year-round.
Unless they’re sold out, which can happen when it comes to the bestselling brat in the joint, the one made with Gummi Bears.
Yeah, Spencer Grundhofer can’t believe it either — and he makes about 300 pounds of Gummi brats a week, which speaks to repeat business.
This was not the meat market Grundhofer imagined when he opened seven years ago. His backroom is stocked with mini-marshmallows, chocolate chips, green olives, peanut butter and dried cherries. That old line about it being better to see neither laws nor sausage being made? The sight may give law the advantage, but Grundhofer doesn’t question success.
“People come in: ‘What’s the newest flavor?’ I put Caramel Apple brats on the sign out front last week. Gone. One hundred pounds. Gone. Seems like everything we make, it sells,” he said.
The charm of a butcher shop
If you’re unfamiliar with Hugo, you might drive right past Grundhofer’s the first time. It’s set back from Hwy. 61, hidden by a nice stand of trees north of the traffic light with Hwy. 8. Its sign notes “quality meats since 1983,” which would make Grundhofer, 42, about 11 years old when he started in the meat business.
Which is true.
When he was 10, he worked in the freezer of a butcher shop owned by a friend’s parents, packing meat in boxes. “But I hung around, asking to do more.”
By age 11, he’d convinced them to let him try cutting meat, “and I could break down a whole beef by the time I was 13 years old.” He slaps one of the 200-pound hind quarters of a steer hanging in the cooler with a sort of fond familiarity, himself being about as broad and necessarily outweighing the hunk of meat.
After 18 years at that first job, he worked at Festival Foods for seven before opening his own business, becoming one of the few full-service butcher shops around anymore.
This confounds him.
“What surprises me is that there aren’t more places like this,” he said. In a good butcher shop, someone’s always behind the counter, offering cuts you don’t find in most grocery displays, meats that they’ve smoked or boned themselves.