ON THE MENU — New meat market brings back personal experience mixed with premium products

Published 12:34 am Friday, May 12, 2023

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NEDERLAND — From the mission to the name and even the employees, 1927 Meat Co. is rooted in history.

The year, just like in its neighboring restaurant Judice’s 1927, pays homage to the family’s store that opened on 7th Street in Port Arthur in 1927. What has since been sold and is known as Judice’s Meat Market was opened by Al Judice’s great grandparents.

“My great grandfather was a butcher, first,” he said. “When we named this 1927 Meat Company, I wanted something that represented our past but didn’t keep us in a certain lane for the future.”

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Having opened on Monday, the full-service meat market cuts meat fresh every day. And customers are present to watch it happen.

“Inside the market, everything is clean,” Judice said. “I like the fact that when you walk in, you can see the butchers cutting the meat. It’s not like they’re behind a door, where you don’t talk to them or you don’t see them. I love the openness of it. You can talk to them and ask them questions. And if they don’t know — I haven’t stumped them yet — but we will always find out if people have questions.”

And the butchers also come with history. Douglas Hensley worked for the Port Arthur store for 50 years. Donald Joseph worked there for 40 years. And both came out of retirement to join Judice with this new venture.

“We have almost 90 years of experience and knowledge butchering,” he said. “And these guys are fantastic. I grew up with them. They’re like uncles and family.”

While Judice operates two restaurants, the idea to open a meat market came as he heard people complaining about large grocery stores being out of items.

“What you’ve seen is a trend through the late 90s when you started seeing the big H-E-Bs and the Walmarts, and they started selling groceries and meat,” Judice said. “And you saw a trend of all of the independent mom-and-pops started going out of business because people were really pushing for the big stores. Now, when you start seeing all of these micro-breweries, micro-wineries and all of these things; people are wanting to go back to full-service specialty things again.”

All red meat at 1927 Meat Co. comes from 44 Farms near College Station.

“It’s all grass-fed. The cattle that they have, it’s a very low-stress situation with them,” he said. “So the marbling in the meat is just fantastic. They do a really, really good job. People are finding that their products — a lot of them are hormone-based. And I think people are trying to get away from that, they just don’t have anywhere to go. So hopefully we can offer them something different, something fresh.”

But at the core, Judice wanted something that was personable.

“Customers don’t just come to the meat case and pick out what they want and just leave or check out,” he said. “I wanted it to where they get to pick out the piece of meat they want and the butcher gets it for them. If something isn’t thick enough, just tell us. We’ll go to the back, grab what we need to grab and cut you a two-inch fresh steak right there, wrap it in butcher paper and you’re on your way.”

And, the butchers are right there to talk with the customers as they prepare their meat.

In addition to red meat, the market offers hot cracklins, hot and cold boudin, frozen gumbos in one-gallon bags, dressing mix, brisket, pork chops, sausage, stuffed chickens — all made with the family’s recipes.

“I think this is going to be fantastic,” Judice said. “We opened on Monday, and we’ve had an overwhelming response already.”

Judice’s 1927 will celebrate five years in August.

“COVID wasn’t super nice to restaurants, but we are coming back with a fury right now,” the owner said. “We are very blessed. We have had an overwhelming response from our customers. It has just been amazing. I just want to say thanks to our customers, the citizens of Nederland, Port Neches, Groves, Port Arthur, Beaumont, Bridge City. We have customers that come from Houston twice a week. And they always call before they come or she’ll text me. It’s been an amazing journey.”

Because the meat market is an essential business, should something like COVID happen again, it would not close.

1927 Meat Co. is located at 3500 Nederland Avenue.