A local butcher shop that already scored big points with the chef at the Phoenix Convention Center landed a huge order for the Super Bowl Experience presented by Lowe’s taking place in early February.
The football-themed event took place on February 4 and 5 and runs again on February 9 to 11 with an "NFL theme park" complete with interactive games, star player autographs, and food counters.
Out of the 14 different stands, eight will sell footlong hot dogs custom-made by The Meat Shop.
“I didn’t want to do a normal stadium dog that everyone sees at the park,” says Patrick Kehler, executive chef at Phoenix Convention Center. “I wanted people to walk around and say, ‘Where the hell did you get that thing?’”
David Grant, manager of The Meat Shop, says a lot of larger meat purveyors can’t easily do something the size that Kehler wanted.
"He wanted a certain length, a certain size, to fit this custom bun, and to fit all these garnishes,” Grant explains. “We do everything by hand, so we were able to customize it.”
The dog is made from a side of beef that’s deboned, ground, and seasoned with paprika, nutmeg, ginger, garlic, white pepper, salt, and “a few other goodies in there,” Grant says. Just as important as what is included, is what's left out. These dogs contain no hydrolyzed oil, corn syrup, or other additives: “Just beef and seasonings,” he says.
The farm did double duty for a while, also serving to educate their kids about topics ranging from biology to mathematics.
Up until last fall, the Wilsons raised all their own pork for the shop and slaughtered it themselves, eventually adding a smoker for mouth-watering ham, bacon, sausage, and other meats. They partnered with other Arizona famers such as Ridgeview Farms to provide chicken, turkey, dry-aged grass-fed and grain-finished beef, and wild game.
The Meat Shop became the go-to supplier for many top Valley chefs, and despite a drop-off during the pandemic, now sells to places like the Phoenix location of Belly, Ollie Vaughn’s, Pomo Pizza, Tratto, and Valentine.
“Carving stations are 50 percent of what we do,” he says. “They [The Meat Shop] always provide me nice pork roasts, beef roasts, bone-in ribeyes. It gets everyone excited.”
Kehler chose this hot dog not only for its size — each footlong has nearly three-quarters of a pound of meat — but because “there’s texture throughout the hotdog and it’s well seasoned,” he says. “It’s an all-beef dog that just looks like a beautiful piece of steak.”
For the Super Bowl Experience, Kehler expects to sell at least 1,000 hot dogs over the five-day span and will order more if sales are strong. The convention center will operate other food counters at the event, and the NFL will feature food from sponsors like Little Caesar’s. But he's sure The Meat Shop hot dogs will be a hit.
“We got samples two weeks ago and did a tasting with the NFL, and they were ecstatic about it; they loved it,” Kehler says.
The dog will come atop a homemade bun loaded with cabbage slaw, crispy bacon, green chiles, onion strings, and a Cajun jalapeño mustard sauce for $20.
“It’s a big deal to showcase mom-and-pop shops,” says Kehler, who’s also using Karen’s Kreamery ice cream, Mustache Pretzels, and City Central Coffee. The Meat Shop will put its butcher shop menus out on the counters where their dogs are sold to let people know how to find their wares after the party.
One element that contributes to their popularity is the prices, which are more than factory meat at major grocers, but lower than other specialty shops.
They also sell cheaper cuts like beef tongue, pork neck bones, and ham hocks. Much of the inventory is frozen because the tiny retail area has limited cooler space. Grant recently, however, increased the cooler space in the back of the shop, so if customers don’t see something out in the retail cases, they should ask.
Even though the custom slaughtering side of the business took off dramatically in 2020, Beth Wilson says that aspect of the business became too much for the family.
“For the volume we needed to put out, we needed 12 or 15 people, and we were down to three, four, five,” Wilson explains. “Sometimes it was just my husband and my son. They couldn’t keep up. The demand was huge, but we couldn’t keep up with it.”
So The Meat Shop in late 2022 partnered with an Iowa-based family pig producer called Beeler’s, whose owners also have a home in Arizona. They used to have a butcher shop, but the family decided they’d rather farm.
“Like us, they know pigs well,” Wilson says. “How to grow them humanely and get them processed with care. Our connections to the livestock community have grown over the years, and we have a very good sense for quality meat and sincere farmers."
"It is important to us to know the people behind the product," she adds.
Although the Super Bowl Experience hot dog order isn't the biggest The Meat Shop has ever had, it's among the largest. The entire team worked on the "Super" dogs, and no matter who takes home the rings on February 12, for this local Phoenix butcher, it's already a win.