Hot honey bacon, Reuben-flavored sausage, soy ginger jerky and country fried steak to go - if you’re looking for a new spin on classic meat, pop into A&C Meat Company at 6472 Southwestern Boulevard in Hamburg, which is also home to Country Club Catering.
With the help of his parents, wife, daughter and brother, Steven Ceccarelli is celebrating two years behind the butcher counter - on Halloween, no less - and thanks to newfound customers, he has even more plans to expand. He sat down to get to the meat of the matter.
Question: What was your goal when you opened two years ago?
Ceccarelli: We wanted to move Country Club Catering, which started in 2006, and get more visibility. We started making sausage for catering and people would say, “This is good! You should retail it.” We moved here, got good visibility and never knew it would take off. We started with cold cuts, Boar’s Head, homemade sausage and bacon.
Now people come in for home replacement meals, dinner pickups; we added a lunch menu, jerky, snack sticks and steak and chicken - so it’s a high-quality niche deli. We’re definitely known for sausage, bacon and jerky.
Q: How many flavors of bacon do you offer?
A: We have a maple brown sugar, black pepper and a hot honey. We’re thinking about doing one for Christmas – Bloody Mary-style bacon – we’ll do a little rosemary, horseradish, tomato.
Q: What is the history behind your sausage recipe?
A: Our mild Italian, hot Italian and fresh Polish recipes are probably 70 or 80 years old. My dad, before he was a teacher, worked for a mom-and-pop butcher shop in Lackawanna. That’s where he learned how to make sausage. A lot of recipes came from there. And I just took basic recipes and tweaked them and made new ones.
Q: How did you come up with Reuben style sausage?
A: Reuben started off for St. Patty’s Day and is still probably our No. 1-requested sausage. We have, I would say, over 20 varieties of sausage. We’re working on a turkey cranberry sausage for the fall holidays.
Everything we do is either scratch made, locally sourced or the best quality we can get. Our beef is from Palmer Ranch out of Boston, NY. I have a guy who raises pork in South Dayton. We carry Ru’s Pierogi, Johnny Ryan soda, Costanzo’s rolls.
Q: How did customer demand lead you to make jerky?
A: People asked for it and I started playing with it and I hit it pretty quickly. We do two kinds - that’s it because we do 50 to 70 pounds a week. Our house jerky is a soy ginger base. Then we do a BBQ Cajun style. It’s all lean beef, smoked and there’s no salt in it.
Q: How are you gearing up for the holidays?
A: Between both businesses, it will be a zoo. We’ll do 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of sausage for Christmas. We’re taking orders now for turkeys - we’re using Haier’s Farm out of Eden. We’re taking orders for turkeys, sausage, pierogi, hams and bacon.
Q: So you’re focusing on meats and not trying to do desserts?
A: I forgot about that! My wife Tracey does all the baking. She does apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, peanut butter pie - and then she’ll make 10 or 15,000 Christmas cookies. She makes seven different kinds like old fashioned cut outs, anise frosting, cuccidati.
Q: Do you think you achieved what you set out to do two years ago?
A: Oh yeah! Now, this winter, we’ll push the home replacement meals with a five-item dinner to-go menu. The last two weeks have been crazy with the weather changing – we’re doing lasagna, chicken parm, country fried steak, comfort food – people pick up on it.
You never know, maybe we’ll do a restaurant next door. We know that we’ve been here two years and we’re not going anywhere.
Info: A&C Meat Co., 6472 Southwestern Boulevard, Hamburg. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.
*Read more about A&C Meat Co., then see Carey's last piece: