Tell us about yourself and your business! What do you do or sell?
At Homestead Meats, we handcraft unique fresh meats, deli meats, sausages and other charcuterie using traditional techniques, a dash of innovation, and all-natural ingredients.
We source from family-owned, sustainable Midwestern farms that raise their livestock in open pastures without hormones or GMO feed. These methods produce meat that is more healthful, more ethical and less taxing to the environment—as well as flavorful, vastly superior meats. First-time customers are often shocked by the difference.
Why did you start this business? If you were a superhero, what would your origin story be?
This business was born, like all things, from two parents... and in this case, I was both! One parent was my background as an immigrant. The other parent was my role as a homemaker, a “stay-at-home dad”.
As an immigrant, I was always searching for better food-- real food made from scratch, cooked by hands like the cuisine I grew up with in my homeland of Israel. Meanwhile, as the at-home parent, I was always looking for the most natural, wholesome food to feed my children.
These two parts of me realized that in America, the only way to find what I was looking for was to create it myself. So, I began making my own meats and searching and cultivating relationships with farmers near me who raised the real stuff. No supermarket food. Nothing processed.
I taught myself how to pickle, how to butcher, and how to cook, all the while channeling my grandma's kitchen and my culture. It felt so good and so right that I just couldn't stop. My kitchen was always full of people. My kids and their friends became the taste-testers of my creations. Grown-up friends and neighbors soon followed. Eventually, people started asking if they could purchase the meats I was making, which was mostly varieties of bacon and sausage. Somehow, word-of-mouth traveled to a few chefs, who used me for their catering.
I knew all along that I wanted to share my passion with my Evanston community, a community which I felt strongly connected to and loved very much. This led to me making the crazy leap into small business ownership.
What's the story behind the name of your business?
As a person who lives in a different country than the one in which he was born, the word “home” is always at the forefront of my life journey, in anyone’s journey, really. We all long for and search for a home, and it’s what we try to create in our lives. Food and cooking are the essential foundations to what I call “home”.
The name Homestead brings to my mind the deep, happy feeling that I get-- and enjoy sharing-- from food that is truly made by hand, at home, from basic and fresh ingredients. This is what I consider “real food”, and it’s the kind that I offer my customers in my Homestead shop.
Tell us the story of selecting your location.
Naturally, the search for a location took a while. A couple of locations came up and fell through. I was driving around Evanston, checking every store with a “for rent” sign that looked promising. There was no "Main-Dempster Mile" back then. Along with mine, a few other young, cool, interesting new businesses where opening near my location, leading eventually to the creation of this unique district in Evanston. So, I guess you could say that I am one of the components that have made the Main-Dempster Mile come to life. For that I feel very grateful and lucky.
What sets your business apart from others that sell the same products?
Homestead Meats products and mission are unique. We source exclusively from local farmers and then butcher and create all the meats, deli meats and charcuterie in house. It is such a challenging task that in Chicagoland, there are only 2 more shops that share this conviction and commitment. So, what sets my business apart first and foremost is that no others offers the same products that I do.
In addition, we are also very different from commercial supermarkets in the special treatment and service we offer our costumers. We can create for and assist our customers with their many special culinary needs and requests, custom-tailored for each individual
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business?
See yourself as a professional athlete. A marathon runner really. Stay in shape, physically, emotionally, mentally and no matter the odds, believe you are going to win this.
Also, believe in and love whatever it is you are hoping to do.
I am talking about "I am going to be there more hours then I ever imagined" kind of Love.
I am talking about the same love you had for your child no matter how many nights they kept you awake.
And, most important, you better enjoy it !