Monday, Labor Day, is an important birthday for Kenny Demers and his family. Their shop, Country Butcher and Deli, on Main Street just south of Groton Center, celebrates it’s third birthday. And Labor Day is probably an appropriate birthday, because making the little shop hum has been a labor of love for the Demers. Kenny literally rebuilt the business from the ground up.
In early 2009, the chatter on Talk About Groton, Groton’s e-mail list and online community, was quite busy on the topic of the old Countryside Video location. Located on 119 south of the town center, it had been empty and for sale. Then people driving by noticed that something was happening in the building. But what?
Demers was in there, remodeling the forlorn old building. He did all of the remodeling, which was “Quite a bit of work,” Demers states modestly, including putting in a cellar where there was nothing but a dirt floor. He dug it out and poured a cement floor, “There was nothing in here,” he said, when he bought the building.
The construction and meeting all of the town’s permit requirements, was “challenging,” Demers said, in an understated tone, “It took over a year, between the remodeling and the permitting.” Meanwhile, folks in Groton wanted to know what was going in. Demers admits it was a good feeling to know that his shop was eagerly anticipated, “People stopped in daily while I was working, to see when we were going to open,” he remembered.
“The shop is neat and clean – it’s amazing how different it looks from when it was Countryside Video! The owner is a nice, friendly, down-to-earth guy.” (TAG)
“I’d been in the meat business for 30 years; started cutting meat when I was 18, worked at various wholesale facilities, worked at Stop n’Shop for ten years, Purity Supreme for 12 years, in Chelmsford, Billerica.” Demers went into construction for about several years, and then, he said, “Decided to go back into this business because construction was slowing down.”
Demer’s custom carving continues to draw rave reviews from the Groton list, “I can report that the hand-cut, 1 1/2″ black Angus NY sirloin I bought the other day was dense, cut perfectly, well marbled for a NY.”
“I bought some marinated teriyaki chicken in a skewer and they were excellent (we grilled them).” “Does anyone know what time they close?? I’m really hungry now.”
Demers, states that “it’s been going well, a little challenging during the winter months, but other than that it’s doing ok. I mean, I’m paying the bills, not getting rich by any means, but getting by.”
He has six employees, including his wife, Julie, and two daughters, Whitney and Haleigh, making the shop “Family owned and run.” He has one employee whose specialty is the salads, and making the lunches with his daughters.
The lunch lines now go out the door sometimes, he said, “Yeah, you’ve got to stay on top of the lunch hour. A lot of regulars now.”
“I have used the deli twice and found the sandwiches to be very fresh and delicious. I am also using them to prepare sandwiches for a fundraiser on Saturday night. The owners are both very nice and everyone that works there is super friendly.”
On the wall he has pictures of his first few dollars, signed by customers. When asked what his specialty is, Demers said, “I would say hamburg and steaks, and custom cut anything. People like to get it the way they want it and they can get it here without ringing a buzzer and they have face to face contact with the meat cutter, and it’s not challenging to get somebody to cut something for you as opposed to a supermarket.”
Getting to know his customers is very important to Demers, “People, back when I started, would pick up their meats daily and it’s starting to come back that way. I have a lot of customers who come in daily, just for their meal that night.”
Countryside Butcher also does a lot of catering, “We make everything here, they tell me how many people and what they’d like. I have a catering menu, but I’ll do anything that’s not on the menu. If it’s not crazy crazy, we’ll make anything.”
They also have family-style meals available, such as sheperd’s pie. Customers can call ahead and order a meal for dinner, then pick it up on the way home. And, “I carry fresh fish daily. It comes from Day Fisherman in Boston, hand picked every day.”
“We have picked up some fantastic Salmon!” (TAG review)
Future plans, “I’d like to have another shop someday, closer to my house,” he said, “It actually only takes me nine minutes to get here, that’s how close I live. Right on the Groton line.” He adds, with a bit of a smile, “ No pun intended.”
When asked if there is anything he misses from construction, there is an adamant, “No. I don’t miss climbing ladders; don’t miss working outside in hundred degree heat; don’t miss working in the cold.”
Secret to success: “Diligence and persistence, fall asleep for one minute in this business and you’re out of business. Pay attention to the customers, their needs and I think you’ll be successful. The customers will basically tell you what they want. I’ll order in anything that a customer wants, not matter how out of the ordinary.” When asked for an example, he said, “beef tongues, customer came in yesterday and last week for them.” He special ordered them, “but now I have them” in stock.
“You have to keep the customer happy. That’s the nature of this business. Everybody has their quirks and things that they like a certain way. A good butcher is like hair stylist, most people go to the same butcher once you get to know them, know the way they like things.”
Country Butcher and Deli
Kenny, Julie, Whitney & Haleigh Demers
68 Boston Rd
Groton, MA 01450
website coming soon