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Richard's Country Meat Market prepared for crawfish season, upcoming holidays

Posted: April 21, 2017 at 6 a.m.
Updated: April 20, 2017 at 11:47 a.m.

After being name the Best of the Best meat market by the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for nine years running, there's no doubt that Richard's Country Meat Market in Fayetteville is the place to go for all of your beef, pork and chicken needs.

But as the springtime rolls around, there is a new growing favorite on the list of desirable -- crawfish.

"Crawfish season is huge for us right now," owner Richard McGinnis said. "We get is brought up live, straight from Louisiana, every Friday morning."

Richard's is selling nearly 3,000 pounds each week, most of it live. The price varies depending on the market rate, but it generally costs between $2.75-$3 per pound. The market does offer freshly boiled and prepared crawfish for an additional $1.50 per pound, and will include corn, potatoes and sausage for an additional charge. Last year, they sold a total of over 36,000 pounds of crawfish.

"A lot of people just love it," he said. "It it seems like we just keep selling more and more."

Throughout the year, it's not often that you can walk in and not find a line of patrons waiting to place their orders at Richard's. But with a seasoned staff of expert butchers, the service is swift and courteous as customers walk out packing everything from Grade-A steaks to range-raised chicken.

"Steaks are still our No. 1 priority," owner Richard McGinnis avows. "But we worked extremely hard to turn the shop into people's everyday meat store, and we've done that."

With the month of May just around the corner, the staff is preparing for their second busiest moth of the year, behind December. With high school and college graduations, Mothers Day and Memorial Day all in May, the demand for steaks, freshly made hamburger patties and sausages will be in high demand. They also plan to sell quite a few whole hogs.

"Business is really getting ready to pick up for us, with all of these happening around the same time, but we will be ready," McGinnis said with a smile. "We have a great staff and will make sure to take care of out customers first."

Another popular fare this time of the year has become the freshly skewered kabobs, made in house in four varieties They offer a vegetable kabob, with peppers, onions, zucchini and yellow squash. The three meat kabobs include, beef, chicken and a beef-chicken combo, which all include seven ounces of meat, as well as peppers and onions.

"And the kabobs we make have quality meats, not scraps or anything like that," he was quick to make clear. "The beef is actual steak and the chicken is breast."

Taking that a step farther, Richard's also has a kitchen that prepares food, ready to eat. Until recently, prepared food was primarily served around the holidays.

When McGinnis and a partner opened the original Country Time Meat Shoppe in 1993 at 3042 N. Market Ave., across from Fiesta Square, there proved to be irony in the street's name. Four years later, McGinnis became the sole proprietor in what is now a family-owned business and renamed it Richard's Country Meat Market.

"The street was already named when we got here, so I guess it's just one of those things," McGinnis said with a grin. "Sometimes it's strange how things work out."

Richard's is the definition of a true meat market -- a wide variety and the choicest cuts of beef, pork, poultry, and freshest seafood around -- but it's also much more than that.

In addition to now making in-house sausages, Richard's has a full deli, stocked primarily with Boar's Head meats and cheeses, as well as fresh local produce and a growing stock of supplementary groceries. You can find everything from salad ingredients to pastas, sauces and seasonings.

"We want to provide customers with everything they need to complete their meals so they don't have to make another stop at the grocery store," McGinnis said.

Now, Richard's has a daily prepared meal-deal, called "Simple Suppers," a collection of nine single-serving meals packaged and ready to take home for just $5 each. There are three options each week on a rotational basis. The meals include a chicken tender dinner, with five tenders, mashed potatoes, gravy and corn; a pork chop with mashed sweet potatoes and mixed vegetables; a hamburger patty with mashed potatoes, gravy and corn; spaghetti and meatballs with green beans; or even brisket with baked beans roasted red potatoes.

The current week's menu can always be found on their Facebook page by searching Richard's Country Meat Market. The meals are available all day long.

"These have been a big hit so far, because we have made it easy for people to swing in and get a ready-to-eat meal to take home," McGinnis said. "So we plan to keep doing them."

McGinnis has years of experience cutting meat, beginning as a youngster at the Mercantile in his hometown of Tontitown. He then spent several years at Dillon's grocery store and Food 4 Less, until he decided to open his own business.

He and his son, Chris, who is also his general manager, make sure to specially train all employees on the art and intricacies of meat-cutting before they hand over the butcher knife, ensuring consistency in the quality of cuts to customers.

The meat can be cut to customers' preference, and the staff can even assist with explanations on how best to cook each meat and what foods might best match it.

All of the steaks at Richard's are from Tyson's Chairman's Reserve by IBP. Chairman's Reserve grades at top-choice and prime. The steaks include beef tenderloin, which is the most tender and the most sought-after of any cut of beef; the bacon-wrapped filet mignon, which is a beef tenderloin wrapped in smoked bacon; and the ribeye, which is the most flavorful cut of meat and second only to the tenderloin in tenderness. Customers also like the strip steak, which can also be called a New York or Kansas City strip. The Porterhouse and T-Bone are also popular.

"We generally have better quality than what grocery stores do and we can give customers more personalized service," McGinnis said. "Our business is built on quality and service."

For pork lovers, there are also pork loin cuts, such as America's cut (a thick, boneless chop), butterfly chop (boneless), Iowa chop (a thick, bone-in chop), center cut (a thin, bone-in cut), boneless pork loin roast, pork tenderloin and smoked pork chops.

There are also shoulder meats and ribs, such as the Boston butt roast (great for barbecue or pulled pork), baby back ribs, spare ribs, and the boneless country-style ribs.

Richard's offers fresh whole chicken fryers (and will cut them at no charge), bone-in breasts (whole or split) and boneless breasts.

Richard's also offers three varieties of chicken sausage made right in the shop, available in ΒΌ-pound links: chicken and garlic, chicken with sun-dried tomato and basil and spicy chicken and bacon.

For seafood connoisseurs, Richard's offers a variety of 8-12 fresh fish each day, such as wild king salmon (when in season), yellowfin tuna, grouper, swordfish, tilapia, sea bass, red snapper, trout, catfish, wahoo, cod, flounder, sole, halibut, turbot, monk fish, haddock, black cod, and wild Gulf shrimp.

Shellfish options include king crab legs and claws, snow crab clusters, snow crab claws, lobster tails and scallops. There are also frozen fish options available, such as swordfish, tuna, catfish, orange roughy, salmon, halibut, mahi mahi, salt cod, cuttlefish, snapper, stuffed crab, stuffed scallops, crab cakes and crawfish, when in season.

Richard's has also began selling its own freshly baked loaves of multi-seed bread, which can be purchased daily.

Meals To Go: Richard's also has a unique program, which allows weight watchers or body builders to come in with the stipulations of their diet (i.e. how many calories, carbs, fat, etc.) and the market will put meals together to meet those requirements.

Richard's is open Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. More information is available on their website at richardscountrymeatmarket.com.

NAN Dining Guide Cover on 04/21/2017

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