Singing Butcher Shoppe brings music, meat to downtown Steelville
A tune on the air isn’t out of the ordinary for Steelville. If there’s no concert at the Meramec Music Theatre, you may find yourself pulled downtown by the ear. Somewhere beyond the giant papier-mâché pig greeting passersby on Main Street and past the guitars and banjos hanging on the wall, your nose catches something savory. You’ve wandered into a place just a little different from the average neighborhood butcher, but when you leave, the flavors, smells and songs are bound to be stuck in your head.
That’s OK by Adam and Beth Yount who own the Singing Butcher Shoppe. With a combined 64 years of grocery industry experience in stores on the St. Louis circuit, the Crawford Electric Cooperative members have learned not to question a crowd-pleaser whether it’s heard or tasted. “Our main goal was to be homesteaders and then we just happen to have this butcher shop in town,” says Adam, a former punk rocker-turned-bluegrass musician who started his career behind the display case at 17. He adds with a laugh, “We’ve spent a lot more hours here than we thought we were going to.”
Many of those hours took place before the shop opened its freezer, during a 15-month renovation process coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Younts weren’t deterred, making daily commutes to jobs in St. Charles, Cuba and Fenton while gutting the 1904 building in their spare time. When the couple’s store opened just prior to Memorial Day 2021, they knew they’d fill a need in the Crawford County seat. They didn’t anticipate becoming an overnight sensation. Beth, Adam and his uncle, David, often put in four hours of pre-open prep work six days a week, but they do it happily to fill a role feeding customers hungry for their brand of hometown charm.
Beth’s weekday lunches are part of the winning combnination. Bratwurst soup, taco salads and the classic deli meat and cheese sandwich became a grab-and-go smash with the courthouse crowd. Also in the mix is the shop’s role as a local hub for Missouri-made products from barbecue sauces to pottery to honey to novels by local authors. “It adds variety to your store,” Beth says. “If you can keep local, I just think it works.” But as the instruments, CDs and records up front suggest, the biggest hits customers clamor for are those from the butcher himself. Adam can’t suppress a grin as he puts down a blade to pick up his axe — or banjo — and belt out a tune for eager shoppers. Far from novelty, the musical aspect of the shop is as close to his heart as following his culinary muse.
“I knew I was going to be tied down for a few years, and this was a way to not have to let go of the music 100%,” Adam says. “I can play for people and blend the two dreams.”
Originals such as “The Butcher’s Song” mix with old Jimmie Rodgers standards and, if the season permits, Christmas carols. Sometimes Adam makes a game of figuring out where a customer is from and playing them a local tune.
“I pick a song a week and hammer on it,” Adam says with a laugh, “so by the end of the week it’s usually time to get a different song.”
“People love it,” Beth adds. “They get him to sing, and they get to leave with a smile and some good meat.”
If the music brings newcomers and first-timers through the door, the meat turns them into regulars. The Younts pride the shop’s artisanal experience. That extends from custom cuts all the way to the offerings themselves. Gourmet items such as Tomahawk steaks, stuffed chicken breast and bacon-wrapped pork tenderloins are all on hand. Even the burger is ground in-house without exception, and Adam shapes each pound into a rosette so discerning customers can see for themselves that the meat is the same color and age all the way through the center.
“We do our specialty thing that I picked up from more than 40 meat shops I’ve worked at over my life,” Adam says. “I took all the best things and put them in my back pocket.”
In the meat case are the usual suspects: summer and breakfast sausages, bratwurst and the current favorite, baby Rouladens, made from thin slices of beef wrapped around bacon, onions and pickles. Other popular items point to Adam’s whimsical creativity. Order an Armadillo Egg, or a few, and you’ll find jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in breakfast sausage. If you find the Brisket Bacon Burger — made from brisket points ground with bacon, salt and pepper — on the shelf, then you’re likely the first customer of the day.
With regulars already coming back for more, the Younts aren’t done feeling out the shop’s possibilities. New endeavors include aging, curing and making their own cheeses, salami, landjäger, rubs and seasonings. Conversely, one of Adam’s favorite aspects of being a butcher is exploring the trade’s history. His sweet bologna has origins in 18th-century Pennsylvania Dutch culture. A garlic sausage Adam is experimenting with comes from Germany. His now-famous Polish ham sausage, known as Krakowska, incorporates nutmeg, pepper and sugar among the spices listed in a century-old recipe.
“I started doing that in Sullivan maybe five years ago and realized really quick people love it,” Adam says. “I’m always looking for something new -— well, new-old — and different. Like what we’ve got going on here.”
“You just try to make each experience special for the customer, and I feel like we know most of them and they know us,” Beth says. “It’s wonderful being in this community.”
The Singing Butcher Shoppe is located at 104 W. Main St. in Steelville. For operating hours, weekday lunch specials or to see what’s new in the meat case, follow the shop on Facebook or visit www.singingbutchershoppe.com.