Thanksgiving is a week away, and the staff of nine at Nelson’s Meat Market have their sleeves rolled up.
Owner Mark Martin said each year the store sells about 600 turkeys for the occasion. That figure includes grilled turkeys Martin himself makes to order on Thanksgiving morning.
It’s the second-busiest week of the year for the store.
“We put in our order for fresh turkeys in August for Thanksgiving,” Martin explained.
“It’s a tricky business to figure how much to order. You don’t want to have left over, but it hurts me to have to say I’m all out.”
He added that the store has to commit to buying all its Christmas meats this month. Nelson’s specializes in prime rib, beef tenderloin and spiral sliced ham.
Nelson’s Meat Market actually began in 1935 at First Ave. and 32nd St. in Cedar Rapids. Weir Nelson Sr. started the business and expanded to multiple locations in the 1960s.
Today, Nelson’s operates solely out of the Old Marion Road NE store.
Martin himself got interested in the food industry at the age of 13, when he worked in a corner grocery store. A few years later, in 1969, he started as a clerk at Nelson’s, where he’s moved up the chain of command, becoming manager in 1980.
Nelson’s today has evolved into more than just a meat counter, Martin noted. The store also offers catering, sells a variety of frozen to-go entrees and operates a deli — open for lunch Monday through Friday — and an outside grill during warm-weather months.
Plus it now sells its own homemade ice cream. Martin creates the mixes from scratch and recommends the sea salt caramel.
“We go to food shows and visit with people across the country,” he said. “I try to have one great, new idea each year that can become a mainstay for us.”
Name: Mark Martin
Company: Nelson’s Meat Market
Address: 1140 Old Marion Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids
Phone: (319) 393-8161
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