Hayward’s award-winning meat locker aims to please

Published 9:45 am Thursday, April 15, 2010

Take County Road 46 east out of Albert Lea, turn right at the flashing yellow light and then left onto Front Street but don’t blink because you might miss Hayward. And if you do that, you also might miss an award-winning meat locker.

Nick’s Meats & Grocery has been owned by Todd and Cheryl Enderson for 10 years. They like the small community and the fact that they can accommodate special orders.

“Steaks are cut your way,” Cheryl said. “You can call in and ask for special orders.”

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Cheryl said people often call in asking for special cuts or thickness of various meats because not everyone wants the cuts they have ready in the case.

They learn about new ideas and meet other suppliers at competitions. Along with competing with other meat lockers in the state, seminars are held to help owners expand their businesses.

“Over the years we’ve won numerous awards,” Todd said.

The competitions are held by the Minnesota Association of Meat Processors. “It’s an opportunity to get with competitors throughout the state, and you can meet suppliers and get ideas,” Todd said.

One new idea Todd got was to cut meat for fajitas and include onions and green peppers and have it all ready to go for weekend meals. They also get a couple days off work to go to the convention. Because they’re the managers as well as owners, it can be nice to get some time off.

“You can get a couple days of R and R,” Todd said.

He likes the association because of the networking and the chance to meet new people.

“It’s a very good association and does a lot for our business,” Todd said. “You can always call someone and ask questions.”

The outside of the store is currently getting a transformation. They bought the bank next door seven years ago and have been using it for processing and storage. Now they’ve decided to redo the siding to make it match the existing grocery building.

Todd and Cheryl are busy year-round. In deer season they usually have about 900 orders. In the summer they provide the meat for booster clubs and the Hayward Fire Department to sell during Hayward Days in July. Todd also likes to come up with two or three new brat flavors every year. Now they have about 27 different kinds of brats.

In the last state competition in March, the Endersons won three grand-champion awards for their specialty snack sticks, whole bone-in-ham and braunschweiger.

Cheryl thought a long time while trying to pick her favorite thing to eat.

“I guess the smoked turkey,” she said.

As well as the state competition they sometimes compete in the national competition. This July they will be competing in Kansas City.

Cheryl and Todd live in Hayward and have two sons, Aaron, 24, and Josh, 20.

In addition to selling at their store, Todd and Cheryl sell their products through Trail’s Travel Center, Hy-Vee and Nelson’s in Albert Lea. They also sell their products at Super Fresh Produce and Ankeny’s in Austin.

Nick’s Meats & Grocery has many items to choose from. Walking through the store a customer could find anything from ham loaf to ground beef to pork patties as well as five different kinds of bacon. There are also many varieties of their award-winning summer sausage and snack sticks. One of Todd’s favorite things is their summer sausage.

“People come a long way for it,” Todd said. “And our beef jerky — you can’t beat it.”