LUCAS — Everything old is new again at Brant’s Market.
When Doug Brant, third-generation owner of Brant’s Meat Market, announced he was closing the near-century old store in January due to new enforcement of certain federal regulations, the remaining inventory of ring bologna, sausages, and other meats and cheese flew out the door.
It was much the same Friday and Saturday, when new owners Ashley and Adam Comeau, Plainville, re-opened the store. By noon Saturday, they ran out of the ring bologna for the third time.
Ashley rang up sales at one end of the counter, while Stephanie Svaty, Doug Brant’s daughter, weighed and wrapped customer orders.
In the back of the shop, Adam worked with Doug on stuffing beef casings with sausage and bologna.
Adam said he's always had an interest in meat, having worked on his uncle's farm when he was in high school. When Ashley lived in Kansas City, the couple would frequent a meat market near her home.
"It’s kind of like if there’s a big craft following, kind of like there is for craft beer. It’s really up and coming," Ahsley said.
"It’s one of things that I think is of a bygone era that somehow the Brants kept it going in their family for all of those years. It’s really phenomenal," she said.
When they saw the Brant was closing the store, they contacted him about buying it.
"This is kind of the perfect time for us. We’ve been married a couple of years and this is something he’s interested in, it’s a successful business. It just sort of all fell into place all at the right time," Ashley said.
The couple will continue to live in Plainville. Adam is a full-time paramedic with Ellis County Emergency Management. His schedule of three 24-hour rotating shifts and four days off should provide him enough time to work on making meats, he said.
Ashley is general counsel for Dessin Fournir in Plainville and does public relations for it and other companies of her father-in-law, Chuck Comeau. She will work in the store on Saturdays.
Customers from Claflin, Ellinwood and Plainville waited in line this first Saturday morning, waiting patiently for the same Brant family recipes they have enjoyed for years.
“I’m pretty sure it will be awesome,” Kirby Krier, Claflin, said after Ashley rang up his purchase of bologna, pepper jack cheese, bacon and the last of the pepper sausage.
Before the store closed, Krier said he would make a trip to Lucas about every six months to stock up.
“It’s been a pretty good chunk of change every time we came up,” his son, Kyle Krier, Ellinwood, said.
The Kriers made the trip as a getaway with their harvest crew since Friday night's rains kept them from the fields, Kyle said.
He said there was no need to try a sample before buying.
“Since Doug’s in the back, I’m pretty sure it tastes the same,” he said.
The 2000 law that saw sudden federal enforcement required much more documentation and the installation of a three-compartment sink, Adam Comeau said.
He said he understands why that was upsetting enough to Brant to close.
“I don’t know how he does it, but he’s constantly moving and constantly doing something. For him to stop and keep track of things he’s well-versed in, that are in his head for 30 years …” he said while washing equipment late Saturday morning.
“He knows the product, and he knows when things are cooked without having to stop and actually do the measurement, record that, weigh things out … things he hasn’t had to do for 40 years, it’s a big change,” Adam said.
“But for me, it’s nothing new. That’s the way I’m learning, and we’re integrating that into the learning process, so for me it’s nothing different,” he said.
Plus, as a full-time paramedic, he’s used to paperwork, he said.
“You’ve got to keep records and push paper, and it’s all kind of the same thing, just different topics,” he said.
Brant said he’s happy to see the young couple take over the shop. It keeps the business going and prevents an empty storefront in the town of almost 400 not far from Wilson Lake.
“To have someone come back and want to do the same thing was a great relief for me and the town,” he said.
He also appreciates the couple likes old buildings. The Comeaus started renovations several weeks ago — working right up to midnight Thursday, Ashley said.
The construction work made some people in town a little nervous, Brant said.
“I said, ‘Don’t worry, they put it back older than what we had it,’ ” he said.
“We really wanted to preserve the history of the business and preserve their legacy and make sure we kept that sort of, I guess, specialness about the business alive,” she said.
They obtained a written history of the business from Brant — his grandfather started the company in 1922 — and got copies of all the photos the family had.
“We thought this building has some cool bones,” she said.
The couple discovered the building was one of the original buildings in Lucas from the 1800s and has always been a meat market.
The Comeaus noticed in the old photos the front of the store had bead board walls and wood floors that had been covered by tile and vinyl.
“We pulled it all up and we restored the wood floors. We restored the bead-board walls. We kept with the color scheme that we found underneath,” she said.
They also preserved the paintings on the walls that date back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Brant said the painting on the south wall is of his grandparent’s Czechoslovakia farm.
“We just tried to kind of change it back to what it would have looked like had you come into the store in the 1920s or early ’30s,” Ashley said.
As for how long Brant will stay and work at the store, he said that’s up to Adam.
“You’ll have to ask him. I don’t think it’s today,” he said with a laugh.