Writer: Karla Walsh
Early in the pandemic, amid food shortages, Nick Lenters noticed a problem. And he thought he had a solution.
“I grew up on a farm in northwest Iowa, and my brother still works there,” he says. “I knew he had 200 cows he couldn’t sell because of meatpacking plant closures, but when I went to Target there was no beef on the shelves.”
So he decided to kick a long-term dream into high gear. The result: Old Station Craft Meats (450 Sixth St., Waukee), which opened on Dec. 15 and sells everything from beef, pork and poultry to cooking accessories.
“Previous to opening the shop, I didn’t have any butchering experience. I grew up on a farm, and I loved to grill and smoke, but didn’t know much about the process in between,” Lenters says. But he adds that he’s learning a lot from the two butchers he hired, who have a combined 30 years of experience.
Old Station Craft Meats promises to “connect customers with their food and educate them about where their food comes from, trying to get it as local as possible,” Lenters adds. To that end, he sources all of his beef, lamb and pork from farms nearby (including Upper Iowa Beef, Beeler’s Pure Pork, Arcadia Meats and Dayton Meat Products), filling that supply chain gap to connect farmers to shoppers—and, eventually, eaters.
“We want to be able to say that we know where the product comes from, have talked with the producer, know their story and are familiar with their product,” Lenters says. “Our focus is on end consumers. That’s our greatest opportunity to educate people about how their food is sourced and where it comes from.”
As part of the “more engaged customer experience” than your typical supermarket meat counter, Lenters hopes to introduce customers to unique cuts that will “help us utilize the whole animal better” and reduce food waste. Watch their Facebook page for details about new products, and eventually, meat education classes.
Writer: Karla Walsh