March 2016 Customer Newsletter 

The New Header

"The gestures of planting, of digging, and of lifting up are the original choreography of the hands... Through the neighborly relation of parts, the hands perform those functions of which prayer is the plainest manifestation: to dig down, to grasp, to lift up and to let go."
- William Bryant Logan, author of Dirt: Ecstatic Skin of the Earth

Now Open!
The new RFD retail store at 1228 E. Fillmore features a fresh meat case. 
Ranch Foods Direct has moved from the old location at 2901 N. El Paso to a new location a few blocks east along Fillmore. The store is now located one block west of Fillmore and Hancock. 

  
New store wows shoppers on opening day 


When the new store opened at 1228 E. Fillmore on February 19, a steady stream of shoppers stopped in to see the new layout and check out the offerings. It was evident from the mix of people that over the years Ranch Foods Direct has become a neighborhood grocery shop relied on and beloved by many.

In fact, on what was an unseasonably warm day for mid-February, many of the shoppers walked, jogged or biked to get there. Rob Estes was wearing a t-shirt and shorts, obviously out for a run. He lives just two blocks away.

"When you can walk or get on your bike and go to your hardware store, your bank, your coffee shop or grocery store, it helps establish a sense of community," he said. "I think the owners here have really put a lot of thought into that."

In the roughly five years he's been shopping Ranch Foods Direct, he's never had a bad steak, he said.

"My personal favorite is the hanger steak, and you can't find it anywhere else in town," he said. "My favorite way of making it is to sear it on both sides, get it to about medium rare and slice it into half-inch thick medallions and put it over a salad with some pesto and tomatoes and whatever else I have in the refrigerator. Funny thing is I didn't even know what it was until I came in here a few years ago and somebody explained it to me, where it is on the cow and what to do with it. The Teres major is another steak you can cook to medium rare and slice thin and put over a variety of things, like maybe coucous or wild rice."

David Havlick had arrived at the store by bicycle. "It's on my way back from where I work at UCCS," he said. "The store needs some bike racks but other than that it looks good. It looks like there's room for more products, more fruits and vegetables, bulk bins." (NOTE: Actually there is a bike rack on the backside of the store with hopefully more to come.) David was buying some chicken and also had a free coupon for ground beef, which he had received after contributing to the Indy Give campaign that helps raise funds for local non-profits at Christmas time (Ranch Foods Direct has been rewarding donors with coupons for the past several years.) "I'm mostly vegetarian, but my kids like the chicken and the sausages. If I get meat, I come here," he said.

The new location was also handy for Chloe Pleitgen, who works right down the street at Colorado Living, a window replacement and home improvement company. "It sure has a new face," she said. "It looks a lot better than the old place. It's great to see this building being used rather than setting empty." She was gathering up several items. "I love the bacon here. It's so good," she said. "I'm also trying to find something for my husband, who had a birthday recently, so I can make him a nice steak dinner."

Other shoppers also responded enthusiastically to the new décor.

"We liked the old store, but this is much better," said Curt Smith. "The wood covered cabinets are neat," added his wife Sue. The couple are big fans of the 15-grain sourdough bread and the humanely raised and processed meats. "You owe it to the animal," Curt said. "A cut I really like is the flat iron. It's from the chuck but it's very tender. It has the tooth of a steak with a lot less fat and it's cheaper." They also buy a lot of ground beef and sometimes brats. "The Callicrate Beef is really good," Sue said. "We seek out restaurants that serve it. The burgers are always better."

The mix of people stopping by that day also included John Hoag, a sustainably minded customer who mostly avoids meat and dairy products but still comes in for vegetables, chocolates, beverages and other locally sourced items. He enjoyed meeting Matt Campbell, owner of Mountain Pie Co., and hearing about Matt's plans to add a gluten-free crust to his line-up. (Matt will eventually roll out some new paleo products as well. His gourmet meat pies will soon be sold as hot ready-to-eat lunches right on site.)

"I'm glad to see the more prominent location. I think it will draw some new customers," John said. "Even though I don't seen any dancing people out on the sidewalk," he added with a grin.

Hours of operation are M-F 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.   
 
Meet the new neighbor     
 Nelson Appliance is located right next door     

 
Nelson Appliance is located directly behind the new Ranch Foods Direct store. Here, owner Bret Geihsler describes who they are
 and what they do.

This business was started back in 1957.
The Nelson family lived here on the property when Fillmore was still a dirt road surrounded by horse pastures. They started fixing small machines out of their garage and eventually built this shop. I came to work here back in the 1980s, and trained under the Nelsons for a long time. The business passed from them to a co-worker of mine and then she decided to move on and sold it to me. That was back in 2004. We fix and service small appliances like vacuum cleaners, shavers, lamps, mixers, a lot of espresso machines; basically anything small enough for people to carry in. If we can get the parts for it, we'll take a stab at fixing it.
 
We have service contracts with around 30 manufacturers. The appliances that aren't fixable, we do our best to break down into recyclables so we're putting as little as possible into the landfill. It's an extra process but we feel better doing it that way.
 
We've been long-time customers of Ranch Foods Direct, both my family and our employees. As a matter of fact, I don't buy ground beef from anywhere else. We know the beef is raised and taken care of properly. I think a lot of people are looking for that now. We've also been in to buy raw bones for our dogs at home, and we've been happy with that too. So there's all kinds of good things at Ranch Foods.
 
When we heard Ranch Foods was coming in, we were like "wow, why didn't we all think of this sooner?" It's a great match. Obviously we can do our meat shopping right next door, but we recognize too Ranch Foods is going to make an awesome neighbor. I think we'll have a lot of customers in common. When it comes to small, locally owned businesses, more people are bending that way these days. Everybody's always looking for savings, but I think people also recognize the trade-offs, and maybe it's not worth it sometimes. Ranch Foods meat might cost a little bit more than Walmart or King Soopers meat, but the value is what you're looking for, not just the very cheapest thing. Same with appliances. If you want something to last, look at the quality and reputation of the company and how they handle service after the sale. KitchenAid mixers are a little more expensive than some models on the market, but they're well-made and completely serviceable. We are still maintaining some that go back to the 1960s. As time goes on, more and more people are starting to think this way.
 
We also recommend the Presto pressure cookers; they have a good stainless steel line. A lot of people of this generation don't understand or know about pressure cooking, the speed it offers, the tenderness it offers for meats. Take stuffed bell peppers for example; if you put it in the oven, it can take quite awhile to get done; you put it in the pressure cooker you're ready to serve it in 20 minutes. People sometimes are worried about the safety measures, but that's all covered. All you need to do is buy seals for it now and then, but you'll be able to use it for many years, even decades. A lot of people end up passing it on to their children. Other brands we recommend are Dyson and Maytag and higher end Hoover vacuums. Delonghi makes a very good Espresso machine. It's an Italian brand, but there aren't many U.S.-made quality espresso machines that we've seen, unfortunately.
 
We've been here since the beginning, and we've seen different businesses come and go. It just works better when businesses work with each other. Fillmore is one of the busiest east-west thoroughfares, and the way the city is set up, we don't have a lot of byways, so this is one of the main east-west arteries and has been for a long time. I see growth in the future. Sure, it will be slow, but those businesses that can hang on during the tough times will act as anchors, and help other businesses to come in. The empty real estate you see along this street, I think that's going to start filling up in the next several years. I don't expect it to happen overnight, because it's going to take some time for the economy to turn around, but I think good neighbors coming in is the key, and Ranch Foods certainly qualifies. The more good businesses that pop up in the neighborhood, the more this becomes a destination for people. That's what we're hoping for. We've been here for decades. Next year will be our 60th anniversary. We have no plans to move. We've thought about it once or twice over the years, but once a business has been in the same place for as many years as we have, moving is really problematic. So we've taken that off the board. We're here to stay, and we're really excited to have Ranch Foods here. 
 
 

Joe Fassler interviews Mike Callicrate for New Food Economy, laying out his vision for a new beef production model built on marketing directly to customers and processing cattle right at the farm. A regenerative farming transformation is underway at Callicrate Cattle Company, with an in-depth 10-day planning process scheduled for late March. For more details, click the pic below.