Like Disneyland for foodies
McKinnon’s offers big sections of meat, cheese, beer
By Linda A. Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
Mention McKinnon’s Market and Super Butcher Shop to any transplant from Massachusetts’ North Shore and a testament to the store’s wonderful meat selection and marinades will follow.
Tell them one has opened in Salem, and just watch their eyes light up.
The New Hampshire McKinnon’s is different from the others. It is the largest in the family-owned chain.
“This is the dream store,” said Sue Willis, director of store development and manager of the new location. “Since this store was started from scratch, we can focus not just on the center of the plate [meats], but all around the plate. We offer as many grocery items as possible at a competitive price.”
The store’s owners, Carl and Ed Penta, learned the business from watching their father. Willis went to college with the Pentas’ sister and started working for them two years ago after jobs with a consulting company and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
“This store was my idea,” she said. “I was brought on for this.”
While the layout of the Salem store is more extensive than the others, the emphasis is still on offering a large selection of quality meats. It is the first thing customers see when they enter, starting with the meat service counter with its high-end cuts of certified Angus beef, all-natural pork and house-made kabobs and marinated items. (McKinnon’s is well known for its marinades; it bottled the original recipe to meet customer demand.)
The seafood department features “the Cadillac of seafood cases,” said Willis. Along with the fresh seafood — which at holiday time includes eel — there are frozen items such as lobster tail and Alaskan king crab. A large case of house-made sushi follows, and the store makes crab cakes, stuffed clams, seafood stuffing and tartar sauce. The store also has a live lobster case.
Next to the service counters are aisles of pre-packaged meats. Along with beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey, these cases feature McKinnon’s fresh-made sausages and marinated meats. The back wall is home to the deli case, with Boar’s Head and McKinnon’s meats (seasoned and baked on the premises) sliced to order. Next to it is the prepared foods case, with items such as Kung Pao chicken, coconut-crusted shrimp, egg rolls, macaroni and cheese, pasta and sauce, and arancini (deep-fried Italian rice balls), ready to take home, heat and serve.
“A lot of stores are moving away from the labor-intensive items made in the store in favor of prepackaged items,” Willis said. “We are going in the opposite direction.”
The center of the store is a produce area designed to look like a farmers’ market. There is also a bakery, which includes the local Pie Guy’s Pies, and the typical dairy and grocery areas.
“We will bring in as many local items as we can as we learn who they are,” Willis said.
Other than the meat department, one of the store’s largest areas is dedicated to wine and beer. Along with the popular brands, there is a large selection of microbrew and imported beers. Also, the store has hooked up with some local restaurants to offer wines served in those establishments that cannot be found in the liquor stores.
“We believe in giving great quality at a great value,” said Willis. “We have a personable, friendly, family feel, not the impersonal feel of the chain stores. We’re a different kind of market.”