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The Meat Shop owners announce retirement

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OWNERS: Kevin and Cindy Prus talk with customers as they check out.
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SIGN: The Meat Shopsign has served its purpose for more than 18 years, and the owners are looking to sell their business onto the next generation.
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CASE: Kevin hand-cuts the meat that fills their case on a daily basis.

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

As customers filed into The Meat Shop on Etna Avenue, owners Cindy and Kevin Prus greeted them by name and even knew some of their orders before they opened their mouths.

The shop only sat quiet for a few minutes before customers continued to stream in to get their freshly-cut meat after the holidays, and even when the shop was vacant, Kevin used the time to cut down large slabs of beef to fill the case.

That is something that Brenda Ross, who’s been shopping there since it opened 18 years ago, said makes their business stand out from the rest.

“They cut their own meat, and so it’s all fresh,” she said. “That makes such a big difference. Now, Owen’s is getting so much of their meat packaged, and so that our main thing: everything is so fresh here.”

Ross came to the shop yesterday to stock up on her favorite items, like ham loaf, pork cutlets and sausage, after she and many of the regular customers saw the news that The Meat Shop would be tentatively closing in March 2019.

Cindy and Kevin Prus said it was a hard decision to make but thanked their loyal customers on Facebook for their support as they look toward retirement and the possibility of passing on their local business to a new owner.

“I was shocked to hear that they were going to close it,” Ross said. “It’s just so convenient to have it here in Huntington. I really felt disappointed, but we are also very happy for them to get to retire together and enjoy it while they’re still healthy. We’re thrilled for them because they are really nice people.”

Ross said she loves their ham loaf, which is made in-house, and the variety of the selection, which you can’t find at corporate grocery stores like Owens. She said that even though time is limited, everyone should stop in to check it out before March.

“Especially for someone who hasn’t been there, they have until March to go in and find that they do have very quality meats. They still have time to go in and start shopping there,” she said. “They will definitely be treated and greeted by a very friendly couple.”

Of the more than 150 customers who took to social media to express their appreciation for the Prus’ dedication to the community, many asked for the recipe for their ham loaf.

“Every time I come in, they know I’m going to get ham loaf,” Ross said with a chuckle. “They know that for sure. I buy pork chops and other things there, but they know that I pretty much plan when we go there based on when I need more ham loaf.”

One customer even jokingly requested more than 47,000 pounds of stew meat to be packaged in 1.5 pound packages to prepare her for the store’s closing.

Valerie Hughes worked in Fort Wayne for 20 years and said that none of their meat shops were as conveniently located as The Meat Shop is, so she said she was disappointed to hear that the south end of town was losing a business she loved.

“Close to the holidays, like Fourth of July and Christmas, it can be very busy. There may be five or six people in line, and I think that’s great,” Hughes said. “My dad was a small business owner, and I love to see mom-and-pop, locally-owned businesses busy, especially here on the south side, since we don’t seem to keep business on this end of town.”

Her husband, who was a butcher at Beckstein’s before it closed, still knows a lot of his customer’s orders, and she said the same can be said for Cidy and Kevin. Hughes said she is praying that someone ends up buying the business from them so that they can continue to have such a quality meat shop in town.

“It’s just the personal treatment and to have someone personally wait on you, and I guess I feel like I get a higher-quality of meat here,” she said. “There just such great people, so I’m very disappointed. I hope someone buys this and takes it over.”