Local Flavour: Meridian Farm Market a family affair
For customers familiar with a typical Meridian Meats & Seafood store, the Tsawwassen rendition may come as a surprise – a delightful one, its owners hope. The new Meridian Farm Market at 12th Avenue and 56th Street has expanded its butcher-based repertoire to include fresh produce, dairy and other products needed to round out a meal.
The large, open space features blown-up black and white photos of agriculture and fishing in historic Ladner and Tsawwassen, hanging from the open beam ceiling along with recycled glass bottle chandeliers. Chalkboards advertise free range, farm fresh beef and organic fruits and veggies.
Darrell Penner first opened Meridian Meats & Seafood almost 25 years ago in Port Coquitlam as an old fashioned-style butcher shop.
When Josh Penner took over the family business as president in 1996, the son found himself frustrated by the lack of complimentary retailers around the store to help draw in customers. He began looking for available sites next to existing, established produce markets. His first foray beyond PoCo into Maple Ridge proved that formula to be successful. Today, he also has stores next to produce operators in Langley and White Rock.
For the past four years, Penner has been searching for the ideal location for Meridian Meats to start selling produce on its own. He saw the need for a butcher store in Tsawwassen after Hal & June’s closed two years ago, and then a retail space became available with the closure of Jack’s TV & Stereo.
The move to neighbourhood grocer is working so far. Since their soft opening in mid-March, sales have been double what was expected, keeping brother Kevin Penner (Tsawwassen store manager, Meridian Meats chief of operations, and a trained butcher like Josh and their father) busy interviewing, hiring and training new staff.
Despite the increased scope, the Penners are staying true to their philosophy of providing organic and local options to customers.
“We specialize in free range meat and there’s been a strong reaction to that,” Josh Penner said.
“That’s important to people these days, they want to know what they’re eating. We’ve had a lot of people happy about our selection of natural and organic foods. Because of the reaction that we’ve had, we’re expanding that category.”
Kevin Penner added they are partnering with as many regional vendors as they can, from pasta makers to sea salt suppliers.
Saturday (April 6) the public is invited to an official grand opening celebration which includes music, entertainment, food samples and a barbecue with proceeds donated to the Delta Hospice Society.
For Local Flavour, the Penners offer up Meridian Meat’s steak with blue cheese butter recipe.
• 4 seasoned New York Steaks (Meridian Meats offers complimentary steak seasoning)
• 3 Tbsp. softened butter
• 3 Tbsp. crumbled blue cheese
• 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped chives (optional)
• 1/8 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
In a bowl, mix together softened butter, blue cheese, chives and pepper. Set aside.
Preheat grill to medium high. Allow steak to sit at room temperature while grill preheats.
Grill steak for 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium rare. Take steak off the grill and all meat to rest for 10 minutes.
Add a dollop to blue cheese butter and serve while warm.
Optional: roll blue cheese butter mixture into a log by wrapping it in wax paper. Keep refrigerated and bring out when needed, slicing off butter medallions for your steaks.