The Little Shop that Could: Saint Adrian Meats & Sausage
Take a moment and think about a taste from your childhood—something that takes you back immediately to the comfort of home. It could be your grandmother’s sugar cookies, warm and redolent with cinnamon sugar, begging for an ice cold glass of milk. Or it could be your mom’s sage and cornbread stuffing on Christmas morning, filling the whole house with not just a tantalizing aroma, but also the promise of a joyful houseful of family to come.
And while these things will forever be tied in your mind to the person who made them in your childhood, they’re not lost to you. You could make them yourself if you have the recipe, the time and the desire to do so.
But what if there was a taste from your childhood you had craved for years, but had never been able to re-create because you had been transplanted far from home, and the ingredients you needed to make it were not only unavailable but completely unheard of in your adopted homeland?
Enter a butcher shop called St. Adrian.
Shortly after this little shop opened on the square in Lebanon in August 2014, with a simple selection of steaks, ground meat and chops, a woman with a heavy Southern accent came in the door and asked hope-fully if they might carry “griats,” something she had loved in her childhood but been unable to procure anywhere in her new Indiana hometown. The answer was once again “no.” They had not heard of griats and they did not carry it.
But here’s where the story changes: The butcher took her phone number and promised he would figure it out and get it for her. And after much research on his part, he did. As it turns out, griats is a regional term; it is more commonly known as “debris” or “offal,” and it’s everything that typically gets thrown away in the butchering process: spleen, pancreas, brain and parts you’d maybe rather not know about. But it was exactly what this customer wanted and when he called her to say it was ready to pick up, the woman was beside herself with delight. She even called her mother as she was leaving the shop, exclaiming, “I got it Mama! I got it!”
This level of above-and-beyond customer service is the hallmark of St. Adrian Meats and Sausage. Hus-band and wife Ryan and Amelia West, first-time business owners, are establishing themselves as the “lit-tle shop that can.”
“When we first opened our doors, we had absolutely no idea what we were doing,” Ryan admits. “There was a line down the street on our first day open, and we got clobbered! And people kept saying, ‘Do you carry this? Do you have that? Can you get it for me?’ and my answer was always yes. Czech sausage? Don’t know what it is but I’ll find out and make it. Black pudding? Let me research it and get back to you. And that’s how we got to where we are right now.”
St. Adrian (so named because St. Adrian is the patron saint of butchers) was born out of Ryan and Ame-lia’s quest for better, fresher meat for themselves. Locavores to the core, they were on a mission to know where their meat came from and how it was raised. Then they started sharing it with family and friends. And then a business model started to take shape. They would open a butcher shop, but they would control the product from the farm to the display case.
“We buy the live animal directly from the farmer,” Ryan explains. “I drive out there and pick it up my-self. When we do this, we are saving the farmers the time and expense of taking their livestock to market. Also, I want to see the conditions in which the animal was raised. I want assurances against cruelty or suf-fering. No antibiotics. I want to know it’s a clean environment. And if those farmers are buying their feed from other local farmers, we’re closing the economic circle and keeping it all local.”
“Then, we deliver the animal to our processor. They know what our standards are; how we want things done,” he continues. “So we know the meat we’re cutting in the shop is the same meat we want to eat at home. We wouldn’t sell our customers anything less.”
Now, in their space on West Washington Street on the courthouse square, the possibilities are virtually limitless. Ryan, an avid and talented cook, can barely contain his creative impulses in this new play-ground. And so, in addition to running the butcher shop and researching unusual cuts and products for an ever-growing customer base, he’s making an amazing array of unique sausages, including tomato-basil chicken, curried chicken, buffalo chicken and pecan-cranberry for the holidays. He’s also making and selling sauces to complement the meats, such as a fresh chimichurri. He set up a curing room over the La-bor Day weekend. If a call comes in for pulled pork for a party of a hundred people, the answer is, of course, yes.
Area restaurants are just beginning to discover the offerings from St. Adrian, and more are sure to come knocking. They’re providing ground beef to the Milky Way in Lebanon, and in Zionsville, the Salty Cow-boy uses their chorizo and Amore Pizzeria and Ristorante uses their sweet Italian sausage. They plan to do more special events, such as in-store tastings and sausage making classes, after the first of the year.
“We are definitely figuring out the details as we go along, but from the start our objectives were pretty clear,” said Amelia. “We obviously wanted to create a financially stable business to support our family. But it was also important for us to create market opportunities for local farmers, because we both grew up in agricultural families. And we wanted to be able to employ local people—to create jobs in our commu-nity.”
They are succeeding on all of those fronts. And after 14 years of marriage, there will be another West in the family by Christmastime.
Said Amelia with a laugh, “St. Adrian has definitely been looking out for us.”
You can find St. Adrian Meats and Sausage at 110 W. Washington St., Lebanon; 765.481.2095.
Find Ryan West's recipe for the delicacy, Pigs' Cheeks here.