It was perhaps fitting that Gov. Greg Abbott’s alarming declaration of a statewide public health disaster back in March occurred on Friday the 13th.
That day in any month is always considered unlucky, and the coronavirus pandemic has certainly brought significant misfortune to many.
For C&J Butcher Shop, though, it brought an explosion of business.
Customer traffic and phone calls still haven’t slowed down at the place that owner Chris Bachhofer calls the butcher shop equivalent of Floyd’s Barber Shop in the fictional small town of Mayberry.
“I’ve got the phone ringing all day,” Bachhofer stated.
The butcher hired additional employees after the pandemic hit and added extra counter space for the needed increased inventory. His wife and daughter are helping out more.
He said that the butcher shop receives calls from restaurants as well as “regular people” who live in the Metroplex and the surrounding counties of Johnson, Erath and Somervell.
Located at 400 S. Morgan St. #102, C&J Butcher Shop sells fresh meat purchased from a processor in Itasca, about an hour’s drive away, as well as grass-fed meat from local ranchers.
C&J’s selections include sirloin steaks, chuck roasts, ground chuck, pork chops, cube steak, chicken breasts, whole chickens, beef cutlets, bacon, ham, brisket, baby back ribs, sausages and seafood.
The store has been virtually unaffected by the food chain disruption that has occurred due to larger meatpacking sites being hit heavily by COVID-19.
Production and transport challenges posed by the outbreaks have caused meat prices to spike by 3.3% across the board. Even the humble hot dog is 5.7% more expensive.
“The public’s not crazy,” Bachhofer said. “They understand that if you stop the flow of things, you’re going to have shortages.”
Bachhofer said he has had to go up some because the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets the prices on meat, even with small processors.
“The only way to get around that is to buy from a local rancher, and I do some of that,” he said. “That meat has not gone up.”
On Wednesday afternoon, C&J employees maneuvered an empty white refrigerator case through the shop’s glass doors, to be stocked later by Bachhofer.
In addition to Bachhofer and his wife Cathy, employees working that afternoon included Carey Swaim, Tyler Keckler, Everardo Perez and Adrian Diamond.
Cyndal Graves, a Hilton employee, came in to make a purchase, followed minutes later by regular customer Bobbie Swenson, who worked at that location decades ago when the space was occupied by Meyer’s grocery store.
Cathy sliced a pound of brisket for Swenson while he chatted with her husband.
At the age of 19, Bachhofer was working in construction when a “bad recession” hit. Looking for a new direction, he realized that his dad, a butcher, had always had a job.
Following in his father’s footsteps has kept food on his family’s table, and Bachhofer sees no reason to change course now. At 53, he is “too old for NASCAR.”
Perez, who has worked at C&J since March 2013, said he has stayed so long because of the way the Bachhofers treat him.
“When I told them I’m going to college, they were just as happy as my parents were,” he said.
Perez is currently attending Weatherford College’s Granbury campus and intends to get a bachelor’s degree in education from Tarleton State University. His goal is to teach English to middle school students in Japan.
Since food is essential, Perez remained employed and C&J’s remained open when the pandemic hit.
“We’ve never lost any time,” Bachhofer said. “I’ve hired three more employees to keep up with it.”
Counting Bachhofer himself, the total number of workers at C&J’s is six. It’s eight if you count Cathy and the Bachhofers’ daughter, both of whom are helping out a lot these days.
“They work for food, though,” Bachhofer joked.
‘I’ve got the phone ringing all day.’
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