Kremmling will welcome the return of the Middle Park Meat Company on Monday, October 2. The business will open at 8:30 a.m. under the proprietorship of Mitch and Christina Lockhart.
Lockharts plan to provide the same specialty items for which Middle Park Meat is previously known for – jerky, apple cured pork chops, teriyaki flank strips, bacon and more. And of course, Lockhart is carrying on the tradition of Harlan’s homemade baked beans. Harlan Land, the former owner of Middle Park Meat since 1975, has been showing Lockhart the “tricks of the trade” before he heads to his home in Albuquerque where he splits his time with his Kremmling home.
Mitch is no stranger to the meat business though, he has been operating the Troublesome Meat Processing for the last four years where he cuts and processes wild game for hunters. “Owning Middle Park Meat was the perfect job for me,” says Mitch, “I love it. I love to cook. I love to cut, and I love to eat meat!”
The timing of the opening for Middle Park Meat coincides with down-time for Lockharts’ wild game processing business. The next hunting season will begin October 14. Lockharts will have three employees at Middle Park Meat and has hired Kremmling native, Laree Howell, as their manager. Howell is the daughter of Marshall and Linda Sherman and is a 2000 West Grand graduate. For Mitch, family and friends are important to his business model, and he has also plans for his cousin, Jesse Beyeler, to work fulltime in the Meat Market. Howell looks forward to the opening of the Meat Market and plans to be a hands-on manager,
“I just want the business to get back-up like Harlan had it when I was young,” she said reminiscently. Middle Park Meat, located south of Kremmling on Highway 9, was originally built in 1958 by the McElroy family as a meat processing plant. Later, Land and his brother Leo, purchased the business from the Clayton Hill estate and at that time it was managed by Glenn Skidmore. Over the years, the business changed for Land and became focused more on the front end retail. Land says the purchase of the smoker in 1991 further evolved the meat market with bacon, jerky, roast beef, ham, salami, summer sausage, pastrami and smoked tri-tip. It created the specialty niche that attracted second home owners, travelers and locals who put the business on the map as a “must-stop.”
Lockhart hopes in the future to combine his family’s ranching business, the Bumgarner Ranches, with his current enterprise and use locally raised beef. “It is important to get a Kremmling product out of this facility,” said Lockhart who plans to transport their cattle to a USDA inspected slaughter house so they can later be used for retail products at Middle Park Meat. For now though, he is building up the inventory of the meat market after it sat idle since last May.
“I am glad to see the business turn over and see it carry on. It will be as good as it was or probably even better,” said Land whose awards he has won over the years for his meat products still adorn the walls in testimony to their popularity. “I have always felt very blessed to have the loyal customers over the years and thank everyone for their patronage, and I hope Mitch and Christina are blessed with great customers too,” said Land. The Middle Park Meat Company is located at 1107 Highway 9 and business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday- Saturday. The phone number is 724-3880.