Paxton’s Meats & More Country Store Processes Nebraska Meat the “Old Way”
Beef. It’s what’s for dinner. Or at least it is according to worldwide sales at Meats & More Country Store in Paxton. Veganism and other plant-based diets may claim to be on the rise, but consumer demand is high across the globe for fresh, high-quality meat products. Ron Jay, owner of Meats & More, has been meeting this demand “the old way” for more than 20 years.
Born of Tradition, Improved by Modern Advances
Travelers on Highway 30 through western Nebraska will find a pleasant surprise on the north side of the highway in Paxton. Meats & More’s appealing exterior is a storybook replica of an old-time general store. Its charming storefront hints to the tasty treasures that await inside. Those who venture inside may feel like they are stepping back in time.
Upon entering, customers will find that the old-fashioned charm continues inside with interesting wood textures and a corrugated tin ceiling. Bulk bins are stocked with rice and beans, freshly baked cinnamon rolls line the counter, and a meeting room in back offers space for small social gatherings. Shelves are lined with Nebraska-made food products, such as seasonings and rubs, soup and dip mixes, honey, popcorn, flour, syrups and jellies and more.
But most people come for what’s in the coolers—premium meat products made locally based on tradition, including selections of summer sausages, jerky and meat sticks, aged and cut fresh steaks, bratwursts, breakfast sausages, Italian sausages, bacon, hamburger, pork chops, pulled pork and smoked cheeses.
Modern technology improves the process and allows for better refrigeration and packaging, but owner Ron Jay’s methods are based on the “old way” and good ol’ Nebraska meat.
USDA-inspected boxed meats are purchased from Nebraska producers and processed in Ron’s state-inspected facility. He grinds his own hamburger from flats or rounds and ages and cuts his own steaks. He uses his own perfected blend of beef and pork to make summer sausages extra tasty. “An all-beef sausage tends to be very dry, so I find that adding pork helps,” Ron said.
All of Meats & More’s specialty blended meat products are gluten free, nitrate free and MSG free. Their products have a shorter shelf life because no preservatives are used in their products—just the way it used to be.
The smoked cheeses are a top-selling item as well. Ron purchases high-quality cheese and smokes it himself. “I use real smoke, not a spray-on liquid smoke,” he said. Consumers can identify liquid smoked cheese by the smoke pattern on the cheese brick. “Liquid smoke looks the same every time, but real smoke leaves different patterns on the brick; smoke doesn’t always follow a consistent pattern,” Ron said.
The demand for Nebraska meat products has had Ron shipping to more than 30 states, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, and Africa, all without advertising. “People from Nebraska share our products all over,” he said.
Hands-On Education and Good Mentors
With the decline of local butcher shops and family farms, custom meat processing almost seems to be a fine art today. And indeed, most people involved in the meat industry will agree that a good processor can make or break the quality of the final product.
Ron spent years learning the art of custom meat processing—for free.
“Growing up in the 50s on a farm in Kansas, I helped my family with the butchering. I still have vivid memories of it today,” he said.
After a 20-year hiatus from the farm working in other industries and now living in Nebraska, Ron found a new friend and mentor when Darrold Meyers moved in next door and asked him to help with his custom meat processing business. Ron was raising jalapeno peppers under drip irrigation while also functioning as a major shareholder in a local pipe company, but he didn’t think twice about helping.
“I helped Darrold for 20 years and never got paid a dime, but I took home a stick of whatever we made that day, and more importantly, I got a hands-on education,” Ron said. “It rekindled fond memories of my younger days helping my own family butcher and process meat; and when Darrold retired, I was more than ready to take over the business.”
In addition to Meats & More, Ron is also a custom processor for livestock owners, offering butchering and processing services for beef, pork, lamb, goats and wild game. Those meats are processed according to the owner’s requests; they are not used in his custom meat products offered through Meats & More. Meats & More also offers “on the farm, ranch or feedlot” slaughter.
Ron employs eight full-time people. He leads by empowering others as he shares with them the strong guidance he received from mentors over the years. “They don’t work for me…we work together,” Ron said. “Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, no matter what walk of life you came from. Collectively, together, we put out the best product.”
Dreams Never Stop
A self-proclaimed dreamer, Ron is not ready to slow down anytime soon. At age 67, he’s still dreaming big, with plans to expand his operations in the near future. He plans to build a 30-foot-by-30-foot addition to expand his summer sausage and cheese production.
Ron’s been working since he was young, but if you ask him, he will tell you he has only held a job a couple of years of his life. He’s a testament to the Confucius advice, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” The quality of product made by Ron can only come from the hands of someone with passion and love for his work.
Gift Boxes and More
A Meats & More gift box is a great way to try Ron’s products or share with others; standard popular choices are available, or boxes can be customized with any of the store’s products. These are popular for holidays, especially Christmas. Or, if you’re in the area, stop in and grab some meat to go from the cooler.
Meats & More Country Store is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (winter hours), or Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (spring and summer hours). You may also visit them online or give them a call to place an order.
For more information…
Meat & More Country Store
409 East 2nd Street
Paxton, NE 69155
(308) 239-4262 or (308) 289-0358