Meet the Roesch family. Owners of what has been described as the “best little meat shop in southwestern Ontario,” the family is more than familiar with the ups and downs of farming. So much so that the story of the family’s retail store, Roesch Meats and More, is the stuff of local legend.
Except that it’s true—as are the rave reviews Louis Roesch’s customers have given his chicken, eggs, sausage, meat pies, and—of course, delicious Ontario pork.
But first, the story.
Founded in 1906, Louis’ farm has seen numerous evolutions in its lifetime. In 1993, Louis decided to look into the retail side of things, beginning with his farm-raised pork.
“It took two years of going step by step to get all the regulations in place”, says Louis. But finally the family’s goal was within their sights—a business that would continue to support Louis, his wife Clara, and their family of seven daughters and one son.
Not two months before the business was set to open, however, disaster struck.
“All the livestock barns burned to the ground and we lost most of the livestock,” recalls Louis. “Two days later, the bank informed us that our loan to proceed with the meat shop was cancelled.”
Devastated, Louis and Clara didn’t know where to turn, with all the refrigeration and retail operation equipment en route to their now-destroyed establishment. Finding only part solutions through insurance, the Roesches were stuck between a rock and a hard place.
“We had enough insurance money to cover the equipment purchases and repair the damage to the meat shop, but with the farm debt we had from before there would be no money for the new hog and layer buildings.”
Louis and Clara were ready to admit defeat.
As anyone living in a small community knows, however, there are some distinct benefits to knowing all of your neighbours.
A mere four days after the fire, Louis and Clara were gifted with the unbelievable: “An owner of an excavating company showed up and said he would clean up the rubble for nothing as repayment for the help my mother had given him when he was a child, saying she had made him the man he was today.”
Next, a local construction group came to visit and asked nothing more than “Where do you want the buildings?” and began construction with only a handshake.
In addition to all of this generosity, the Kent Bridge and Chatham communities set up a collection to support the family, raising an amazing $10,000, which immediately went to the construction group.
With support like this, Louis and Clara knew they needed to roll up their sleeves and get the Roesch operation back on its feet.
George Roesch, head meat cutter - son of Louis and Clara
Today Roesch Meats and More is a thriving operation in the Chatham-Kent area, serving only the highest quality, freshest, and healthiest meat—all completely local.
Lessons learned over the years?
“If it’s not grown local, or produced in Ontario, it is not available in our store,” says Louis. “It’s important to our customers that they know how our hogs are raised, how we grow the crops, and what is in our feed.” And with products being this local, customers know if they have any questions, they can ask the farmer directly while they’re shopping in store.
As well, always keeping an eye on current health trends, Roesch Meats not only offers high-quality products made in house but also healthier options.
Says Louis, “In our sausage and kielbasas, for example, the fat content is much lower than the industry norm. The salt content in our cured products is kept to a minimum level and we also will not use artificial smoke in any of our products.”
The family’s business has continued to grow year after year by answering the questions and meeting the needs of customers. Whole pig barbeques have grown into a full-service catering enterprise serving Windsor, London, Sarnia, and surrounding areas, which allows Roesch Meats to promote their own pork—and the industry as a whole—at every function when possible.
A business literally rising from the ashes, the story of Roesch Meats and More is equal parts community spirit, hard work, and savvy business sense.
Sprinkled, of course, with a bit of local legend.
Location: 10910 Northwood Line, Kent Bridge, ON N0P 1V0
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