HALLIDAY – Eighteen years ago, Kelly Allmendinger went to work in a butcher shop here. He enjoyed it so much, that he dreamed about owning the shop one day.
That dream became a reality three weeks ago. Allmendinger purchased Halliday Custom Meats from Jim Hausauer, the very man he went to work for as a young lad, and renamed the company Kelly’s Kustom Meats. Hausauer owned the business for 23 years.
“I’m not going to change much,” said Allmendinger said. “It’s always been a ‘Mom-and-Pop’ operation and we’re going to keep it that way.”
One thing he is considering is opening up a little grocery area at the shop where people can purchase bread, and eggs and milk and other items.
But that’s down the road.
Right now, Allmendinger and his crew slaughters and butchers livestock at the Halliday facility – a one-stop operation. The butcher beef, sheep and pork and a multi-purpose plant on main street.
The store front is quaint with a big picture window where customers can see the butchers at work. The store looks like something out of Mayberry and Aunt Bea stopping in for a nice roast or a pound of hamburger.
From the outside, the facility looks smaller than it is. But inside, as aroma of meat lingers in the air, one will see all the amenities necessary for a big-time operation.
Along one side are coolers where the meat is cured for 10 days or so. And next to the cooler is a freezer where the meat is stored after it has been sliced and wrapped. On the other wall sits a line where the meat is sliced into steaks, chops and other factions. They also make sausage, brats, bologna, head cheese, liver sausage, hams and bacon.
And in the back, behind closed doors, is the slaughter area.
Last week, during somewhat of a busy day, Allmendinger took a break and sat at his desk. He watched as he crew sliced up beef into steaks for a customer. The crew cut the beef with precision-like like accuracy as they bantered back and forth.
Yes, his dream had come true.
“I always wanted to get something for myself. Be my own boss,” Allmendinger said.
But a lot of water had gone under the bridge since Allmendinger worked for Hausauer nearly two decades ago.
He grew up in Dodge and while attending school in Golden Valley High School, Allmendinger learned the business from Hausauer, working in Halliday for two years. But then he left his home town to attend North Dakota School of Science where he earned a degree in diesel mechanics and welding.
He’s lived all over the state, in small communities like his home town and in big cities like Fargo. He worked in the oil fields, was manager of a gas company, operated a crane and ran cattle.
But the familiar winds of Dodge beckoned him and Allmendinger returned to his roots.
“I loved this area. It was home,” he said.
Over the years, he kept in touch with his mentor, expressing an interest in taking over the business.
And then it happened.
“One day he called me and asked if I was still interested in buying the business,” Allmendinger said.
And the rest, as they say, is history.