FT. PIERRE and HAYES, S.D. — A family-owned butcher shop, restaurant and slaughterhouse is helping to fill the demand for local meats in central South Dakota.
Karla and Dennis Maier both come from ranching backgrounds and have both spent time working at various ranches in Montana and South Dakota.
“We just kind of got to the point where we were processing wild game for family and friends and it grew and people would call and ‘the cow broke a leg’ or ‘I’ve got a bull down, do you guys want to cut it up?’” Karla said. “It got to the point where we were doing 15 to 20 a year doing that, and we were like, we need to do something different.”
They opened Maier Meats in February 2021 as a slaughterhouse near Hayes, South Dakota, alongside their son, daughter and daughter-in-law.
“We have a demand for our specialty products as we started making them for local producers they were like ‘oh, I want to buy some of this for my family,’” Karla said. “So, we decided to add a retail outlet and plus we wanted to offer South Dakota ranch raised beef to family consumers.”
They have since opened a retail store in downtown
in the same building that was once Andy’s Meat Market, a long-time butcher shop built in 1907. That shop had closed in 1969 and had served as the building for several other businesses including the newspaper, a bar, taxidermy shop, electrician’s offices and preschool.
“We wanted to purchase beef from local ranchers, or from ourselves, and process it and have an avenue for the local families to purchase local raised beef,” Karla said.
At their retail location they sell all the cuts of meat from beef and pork, as well as have a restaurant and coffee shop, serving both breakfast and lunch along with drinks throughout the day.
The meat comes from ranches within a 100-mile radius of Ft. Pierre.
“Some of them are life-long friends we’ve known forever and some of them are people who we are just getting to know, but if they have an extra beef ready to get butchered and they are not sure what to do with it, they will call us,” Karla said.
Around 70% of their business is customer butchering. They are a custom-exempt, state-inspected slaughter facility, processing roughly 400 beef a year.
Their son Colton works in their slaughterhouse facility.
“Everybody is able to know where it’s coming from and we are out there seeing where the beef is being raised, I mean, we know most of these people that we are buying it from and can guarantee that we are providing good product for our customers,” Colton said.
Knowing where the meat comes from is a key component to the Maier Meats business.
“With the open borders, with our meat coming across Mexico and Canada, you don’t really know where your meat is coming from,” Karla said. “People can come in here and know that it is local ranch-raised beef. It came just 20 miles down the road or 50 miles down the road from a local rancher. Might even be friend of theirs and I think that just adds some comfort to what they are consuming on a daily basis.”
The central South Dakota community has shown the business their continued support.
“The community has been really good. I mean we are booked out through March right now. Tons of support, they are buying our local products that we source from them and just an overwhelming community support,” Colton said.
“COVID kind of changed the dynamics of our product’s availability and more and more people are looking for opportunities to find local, ranch-raised beef. And we are providing that outlet,” Karla said.
Karla said they do expect to grow and hopefully bring on some other employees.
“Eventually we would like to get some partners that would help work the business and grow it with us,” Karla said.
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