It quickly became clear why the man seemed incomplete when he looked up, handed his payment to Butcher Boy co-owner Ken Jolly and said, “I miss you guys. I loved that old place.”
That ‘old place’ was Ken and Clint Jolly’s flagship butcher shop on Rock Boulevard where the Jolly family did its carving for more than 30 years. Ken was the second generation to take over the store before his son, Clint, came on board. The Sparks location is known as the “original Butcher Boy” before it was closed in November 2007.
Those days are in the past for Ken, who was curbside Thursday afternoon in downtown Sparks greeting and serving people looking for that original Butcher Boy taste.
“I wanted to get my name back out here again,” Ken said about deciding to post up for his first summer run at the Sparks Farmer’s Market. Keeping the business alive as a mobile butcher shop has been no easy task, but the exposure at the farmer’s markets (including the Summit on Saturdays) has been aided by the familiar faces stopping by the tent.
“It’s going good and it is good to be out here and see a lot of our old customers,” Ken said. “Everybody that comes by, the first question they ask me is when am I going to open another store. I am working on it.”
Ken said his “good, loyal customers” were the best part about owning the Butcher Boy in Sparks, and that feeling has translated to the street vending business where he continues to interact, reminisce and sell to many former customers. He doesn’t avoid the question about opening another Butcher Boy and said that when the time comes, in the near future, it will be based in Sparks.
People passing on Victorian Avenue know to shoot a smile toward Ken’s tent if they want to be teased with the many specials chilling in the coolers behind the large Butcher Boy banner. Ken said familiar folks stop by and know exactly what they want, while others may need a quick lesson in navigating the menu.
“All the products we have out here are pretty much our specialty products, our marinated meats, sausages and a couple different tri tips that are very popular,” he said. “A lot of those things are very easy because they have been prepared.”
Many farmers, jewelers and various vendors enjoy the ability to display their goods on tabletops to entice the public, while Butcher Boy holds its meats in storage to remain cool. When asked if he felt at a disadvantage, compared to other booths that can display their merchandise, he simply turned and pointed to a small stove cozily positioned in the corner of his tent.
“It doesn’t change anything for us,” Ken said. “It actually helps us because we can get the smell going from the cooker. We have a lot of people who will come up and ask us to cook something for them. So once they purchase the meat, if they want to eat it right here then I will cook it for them.”
As the Butcher Boy team continues to work through the summer farmer’s market season, Ken can’t help but remember the days when families would venture through the butcher shop in Sparks for a sample of anything new he had. Until he is able to open another storefront, he said seeing those families on the long Sparks street will suffice.
“I had a lot of really good, loyal customers,” Ken said of his time spent in the Rock Boulevard shop. “Generations of families would come through and that was really cool to see those people come through with their kids and grandkids.”