Tom Yucuis, owner of Butcher on the Block (Lake in the Hills, Illinois), assumed the coronavirus pandemic would negatively affect his business, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. When meat was in short supply to both consumers and restaurants, Yucuis was already a step ahead. After witnessing product shortage during the H1N1 Flu virus years ago, he had the forethought to stock up. Yucuis explains how the unexpected success brought new opportunities that will stick around long after the pandemic is over.
What inspired you to get into foodservice?
“I worked at a slaughterhouse at age 17 and my life goal was to own my own butcher shop. I’ve always been passionate about cutting meat. I love that fact that I go to work to enjoy my hobby. I love working with my customers and pleasing them. You have to be passionate about what you do.”
What’s the most interesting thing to happen to your business?
“In 2005, I had two reps from Beijing, China, find me and invite me over to tour meat distributors. Larger beef distributors were trying to price gauge them. I gave them a fair price and ended up shipping 19 containers of antibiotic and steroid-free beef to all the Olympians. This growth opportunity allowed me to increase my business with two new storefronts, from 1,600 to 4,300 sq. ft.”
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
“COVID-19 was a huge perceived challenge, but never expected it to go the way that it did. I needed to employ six new employees to manage the three new entities added to my business.
- Curbside pickup wrapped around the building
- I purchased a refrigerator truck to provide safe delivery
- I was able to assist local restaurants greatly by having product when no one else did and selling protein to the restaurants at cost, since the broadliners were showing up with near empty trucks, therefore, having to charge a premium to deliver.
I’ve worked hard to reach out to my community and prop up local restaurants whenever possible. Now that they’ve tried his premium cuts, I have restaurants for life.”
What Cambro products help make your business work?
Links for Butcher on the Block
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ADRIANA DESIDERIO IS THE DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER AT CAMBRO.