When HoneyBaked Ham was just a single shop in Michigan more than 40 years ago, it was run under the careful eye of its founder, Harry J. Hoenselaar. He handpicked every bone-in ham that he was going to sell in stores and carefully cured each in a secret marinade recipe. He then slow-smoked the ham over a custom blend of wood chips. Hoenselaar even built and patented a machine that spiral-cut the meat into almost perfectly even slices and re-creations of M.A.S.H. characters. But what really stuck with people was his glaze—a proprietary recipe that encased each ham with a sweet, crunchy finish.
Though Harry's shop has since grown into a nationally recognized brand with more than 400 stores, that attention to detail hasn’t been lost. His grandchildren now oversee the company, and they have maintained that same process of hand-selecting hams and smoking them for up to 24 hours before they’re spiral-cut and glazed. Many of the stores also have a cafe-style counter, where patrons can pick up fresh sandwiches layered with roast beef, smoked turkey breast, chicken salad, and of course, honey-glazed ham.
Hoping to revive the culture of the neighborhood butcher shop, with its personalized service, attention to detail, and artful products, restaurant-industry veterans Justin Rosberg and Jason Parent took a gamble on their first New Hampshire butcher shop in 2003. Dubbed The Meat House, their store quickly earned a foodie following, spawning additional franchise locations across the country. Today, The Meat House’s many locations stock fine cheeses, prepared side dishes, other gourmet grocery items, and hundreds of wines alongside the usual selection of traditional and exotic meats. Butchers also explain how to prepare each hand-carved cut of meat, sharing recipes, best slicing practices, and cooking techniques for giving pork chops the flavor of justice.
Buying from local farms can reduce one’s environmental impact and make it easier to keep track of how food is produced. The meats at What’s Your Beef Butcher come from a farm in Union County, North Carolina, and are raised without hormones, antibiotics, and steroids. The butchers there age free-range beef for up to 21 days, letting it become tender and ideal for serving at steak dinners or bribing a judge who has dentures. The shop’s lambs feed on grass and unprocessed grain rather than the chemical-rich feed blends used by large commercial farmers. Bison serves as a high-protein, low-fat substitute for beef, and wild game, including cornish hens, duck, and rabbit, calls out to adventurous chefs from refrigerated cases.
Simply Divine Sweets owner Yaschica Sloan-Mills believes her purpose in life is to make others happy with her treats. A few years ago, she began doing just that while selling desserts to her family, friends, and coworkers. Soon, though, with the opening of her shop, it was more than just Yaschica's loved ones and acquaintances reaping the benefits of her devotion to decadence. At Simply Divine, Yaschica bakes every cupcake from scratch and presents batches in an artful, sophisticated manner. She also offers a wide range of gourmet flavors, from cherry vanilla to Kickin' key lime.