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A cut above: Working hard to ‘meat’ expectations keeps customers coming back

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When Mike and Trish McKee decided to open a meat shop, they knew they had to offer products that were different than what customers could find at local supermarkets.

And they found exactly that after touring the Painted Hills Natural Beef headquarters and operation in northern Oregon.

Painted Hills Natural Beef is a group of ranchers with the same goal of raising and providing quality beef products,” Mike said. “They do it right; all natural with no added hormones or antibiotics. They’re a small enough company to keep control of an animal from birth to finish. I know exactly what I’m getting when I place an order for Painted Hills beef. It’s a consistent product with quality marbling.”

The business couple owns Mike’s Meats and Farmers Market, 1202 N. Wenatchee Ave. It’s the only full-service location in the area that offers the minimally processed beef with no artificial ingredients.

People are more concerned with their health and are eating more at home now,” Trish said. “Beef from Painted Hills plays right into that.”

Businesses are also looking for the best quality meat for their customers.

The quality of the meats at Mike’s Meats is second to none on this side of the mountains,” said Kurtis Strawn, executive chef at Caffé Mela. “Mike gets the absolute upper end meats, and his butchers know how to cut it.”

In addition to Painted Hills Natural Beef, Mike’s Meats also features:

• All-natural chicken from Draper Valley Farms in Lynden

• Pork from Hills Meats in Pendleton, Ore.

• Seafood from Pacific Seafood or Trident, both out of Seattle

• Eggs from Happy Hen Natural Eggs in Manson

• Handmade and baked on-site natural pizza crusts and artisan breads by Scott Parsons, owner of Artisan Bread Company, a business within Mike’s Meats

• An impressive selection of choice local and state wines

• In-season local fruits and vegetables

• Homemade soups seasonally

The McKees leased 3,800 square feet in the Eagles building, remodeled it and opened the store in July 2010.

Mike is an Eastmont High School graduate, and Trish graduated from Wenatchee. The couple has been working through that problem for 21 years, Mike joked. Mike was a licensed electrician for 15 years, and Trish has been a full-time registered nurse for 28 years.

When Mike was 12 years old, he started working with his grandpa in a small café at Pangborn Airport. This experience taught him valuable life lessons at an early age. Mike is passing those lessons to his two younger children as they work at the store.

One of those lessons is taking good care of your customers.

The staff at Mike’s Meats is great to work with,” said Matthew Walgren, general manager and chef at Milepost 111 in Cashmere. “It’s the best meat market in the valley. It’s an honor and a privilege to be associated with Mike’s Meats.”

Mike’s Meats and Farmers Market (mmfm.biz) recently passed a milestone when it underwent federal inspection with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This new designation is important for the business; it allows it to increase wholesale accounts and make sales across state lines and online.

We have no plans at this time for selling our products on the Internet,” Mike said. “That’s something we may consider in the future, however, with our jerky and sausage.”

Mike’s Meats and Farmers Market has a dozen wholesale clients throughout the valley. The farmers market side of the business brings in-season, fresh fruit and produce from local growers and farmers.

We specialize in having the freshest and best quality products available, whether it’s fruit, vegetables, breads, meats or seafood,” Mike said.

The business, which has 10 employees, has also started catering.

We mostly do barbeque,” Mike said. “We can handle events from 50 to 440 people, from wedding receptions to corporate groups and everything in between.”

Mike attributes the core of the success for Mike’s Meats and Farmers Market to his staff.

We are truly blessed with the quality of our people,” Mike said. “Each employee brings a set of skills to the table, and they are some of the best in the industry.”

Mike’s Meats and Farmers Market is taking its business to the next level by expanding. It was the first business to commit to the Pybus Market, where it will be known as Mike’s Meats and Seafood.

Pybus is a good fit for us because we are limited in space here,” Mike said. “Our 1,600-square-foot space at Pybus will allow us to expand our operation considerably. We will offer a wide variety of fresh seafood, including a 250-gallon, live crab tank with a big ice table above. We’ll also have a full line of smoked products, such as pepperoni and jerky. And we’ll offer fresh natural meats custom cut in a state-of-the-art, USDA-inspected meat processing station.”

Plans for Mike’s Meats and Seafood at Pybus have been aging for almost a year.

We have a tendency to wade in from the shallow end — start slow, do it right and move on to the next step,” Mike said. “Plans are coming to fruition, and we are right where we need to be at this point in time. I expect Pybus to take the majority of my energy for the next six months.”

Meanwhile, Mike’s Meats and Farmers Market will continue to supply quality products and maintain quality relationships with its retail as well as wholesale customers, such as Joe’s Log Cabin Steakhouse.

We have a great relationship with Mike’s Meats,” said Jeff Schell, manager at Joe’s. “If we are in a bind and need meat on a moment’s notice, Mike and Trish are there for us. They provide a great product and great service.”

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