Bluescreek Farm Meats maintains link to customers in its new Plain City location
By Julie Bhusal Sharma, Photography by Maria Khoroshilova
When you see Bluescreek Farm Meats being delivered to Pure Imagination chocolatier it’s not your imagination. And, it’s also not necessarily for bacon-chocolate concoctions.
An increase in mandatory open hours at the North Market led Bluescreek to end its 23 years at the historic cultural and cuisine exchange this past May and turn to other retail outlets—including selling its meats through its former North Market neighbor and chocolatier.
Fortunately for the meat family business, doing deliveries through a chocolate shop isn’t its only solution to feeding customers’ cravings.
In April, Bluescreek opened the doors to its new Plain City location at the corner of U.S. 42 and Ohio 736, which is approximately 17 miles from the farm north of Marysville—less than half the distance from the farm to the North Market. At the Plain City brick-and-mortar, there is no need to validate parking passes, but there certainly is room to test-drive different offerings.
At the North Market, Bluescreek was restricted to selling raw meat only, which has made newfound retail freedom sweet—literally. Bluescreek has branched out to providing baked goods, prepared foods, groceries and larger, more complex butchery classes.
Bluescreek recently hosted a class on primal meat preparation, where attendees ate as they learned, eating the equivalent of a 10-course meal. According to Jamie Johnson, daughter of co-owners Cheryl and David Smith, and manager of Bluescreek, such an involved class would not have been possible in their North Market space.
Despite the opportunity Bluescreek has taken advantage of, leaving its past at the North Market wasn’t easy.
“One of the reasons why we couldn’t continue with the hours is because we feel an obligation to our customers, which is why we originally opened up, to keep in contact with our customers and educate them on our quality products,” says David. “And for us, to stretch ourselves so thin that we couldn’t be open, that forced us to relocate and change our hours.”
Although several vendors have also left the North Market since the hours have changed, Pam’s Market Popcorn is the only other vendor besides Bluescreek that has publicly stated its leave is a result of the increased mandatory hours.
But while the landscape of the North Market changes, Bluescreek is adapting well to its new rural setting.
The meat makers don’t see local livestock owners nearby as competition—but rather, just a different type of customer. To draw them into the store, Bluescreek has begun processing customers’ livestock so that owners don’t have to do the dirty work to reap the results.
And, whether they’re livestock owners or not, customers don’t need to spend time on making a sandwich either. The blue-ribbon star of the novel Bluescreek prepared foods menu is the fried bologna sandwich. However, the pig and cow sandwich, which is filled with grilled ham and cheese, is also a notable menu item with weekend company from barbecue sandwiches and possibly a dessert to follow.
But dessert doesn’t come last at Bluescreek. An in-house baker’s personal gluten-free diet has made way for several gluten-free bakery items—such as muffins and hamburger buns. Vegetarians, however, need to beware. Lard is used in baked goods to follow through with Bluescreek’s mission to use all it can from each animal. And, besides animal fat, you may just find some animal in your baked goods, too.
“We have a cookie that’s called a bacon chocolate chip cookie that we make in house that has our candied bacon, cinnamon and cayenne candied walnuts and pretzels—and, it’s the most amazing cookie in the entire world,” says Jamie.
The sweet and savory mélange is too popular to be restricted to one form, Jamie notes.
“Our bakery guy has adopted that combination as key ingredients in several products. We just started doing a bacon pie and it was going like crazy,” Jamie says. “We were literally making them and [customers] were taking them, waiting in line for them to get made.”
So, it isn’t just Pure Imagination that makes raw meat and raw sugar a complementary pair. The sweetest part for the Smiths is having it all—a counter to sell their meats, the family behind it to greet customers and endless possibilities. Bluescreek is taking the latter to heart by working on what’s next in the pipeline: The meat makers will start a catering division, which it hopes to bring to market this November or December.
Bluescreek Farm Meats is located at 8120 U.S. 42, Plain City, Ohio, 43064, and can be reached at 614-504-6605 or bluescreekfarmmeats.com.