Knoche's butcher shop for sale, 'priced to give new owners the opportunity to succeed'
HomeHome > News > Knoche's butcher shop for sale, 'priced to give new owners the opportunity to succeed'

Knoche's butcher shop for sale, 'priced to give new owners the opportunity to succeed'

Dec 01, 2023

Karl and Mary Wellensiek leave Knoche's butcher shop during one of their several visits during the week.

Mike Maier, left, uses a machine to put casings on homemade brats, as Nancy Lehr weighs out candy that is bought in bulk and put into smaller containers to sell at Knoche's Old Fashioned Butcher Shop, 5372 Old Middleton Road. Maier has been an employee at the shop for 43 years, and Lehr, who is owner Steve Knoche's sister, has worked there 44 years.

Steve Knoche, who put his 84-year-old Knoche's Old Fashioned Butcher Shop up for sale Friday, hopes someone will carry on the business but knows that's probably unrealistic.

"Keeping the Knoche's name on there would be awesome," he said. "But you can't just come in here and take over these wholesale accounts."

Knoche's has seven employees, four part-time and three full-time, said Stephanie Knoche, 57, who has owned the shop at 5372 Old Middleton Road with her husband for 25 years.

She said one of them may be interested in buying the West Side business, but it's unclear.

Steve, 68, said both his daughter's husband and his son have good-paying jobs and don't need the aggravation of running a mom-and-pop shop.

"You don't make a ton of money," he said. "It's a tough business nowadays. It's only me and maybe a couple other stores in the city that are like me anymore."

Steve said he's up against Hy-Vee, Metcalfe's Market and Whole Foods Market, which is building a 50,000-square-foot store not far from Knoche's. "It's a tough situation," he said.

According to its real estate listing, the couple is asking $450,000 for the 5,700-square-foot Knoche's Food Center building, which is advertised as "one of Madison's business landmarks since 1938." The building was built in 1922.

The listing encourages buyers to "explore new opportunities with an established history of being one of Madison's finest butcher shops" or to bring their own ideas to the location, which is zoned for neighborhood mixed use.

Steve Knoche said as a meat seller, his products go through daily state inspections. Anyone who intends to carry on the business would have to understand hazard analysis and critical control points, or HACCP, he said.

HACCP is a food safety system that keeps biological, chemical and physical hazards in the production process from causing the finished product to be unsafe.

The sale includes all equipment, vehicles, real estate, inventory, the Knoche's name, customer lists and the possibility of taking over Knoche's beer, liquor, tobacco and food and drink business licenses.

It's "priced to give new owners the opportunity to succeed," the listing says. "Continue the legacy or build your own."

Steve Knoche, co-owner of Knoche's butcher shop, talks to employee Mary Hennick at his desk in the shop. Hennick has been working there 11 years.

Steve, who began working at his grandparents’ store when he was 8, said it has been hard to find workers, and the store has taken a big hit because of road construction out front.

"It's just killed our business," he said.

Stephanie said sales are down about $1,500 a day. "It's not been a good summer," Steve added.

They said the shop has been doing OK due to its large wholesale business. They run two trucks, delivering meat to 65 bars and restaurants, which accounts for about 40% of their business. The other 60% is retail.

Stephanie said Knoche's is one of the biggest ground beef wholesalers in the state, with its meat used by the Oakcrest Tavern across the street, Vintage Brewing, Badger Tavern, Laurel Tavern, Riley Tavern, Jordan's Big 10 Pub and Sconnie Bar. Smoky's Club, before it closed, was one of its biggest accounts.

Stephanie said the shop is so busy providing meat to bars and restaurants, they’ve had to turn new wholesale business down.

She got choked up as she reflected on her best memories over the years. "We’re just kind of like family. We banter. And especially on the holidays, we all get together and celebrate the hard work being done."

Tim Oesterle, of Mount Vernon, gives his meat order to Brett Nev at Knoche's butcher shop. Oesterle grew up in the surrounding neighborhood and remembers Knoche's from his childhood.

Steve said they had two offers on Monday and four people came to look on Tuesday, but they’re not accepting offers until more people have a chance to see the property.

Teaching the retail side to someone would be easy, he said, but training someone on the wholesale side would be tricky.

The book of rules and regulations he has to abide by is 4 inches thick, Steve said. He needs to write plans for his raw ground meat, his marinated meat and his sliced meat. He also has to create letters of guarantee and chart all the temperatures.

"It's a lot of work," he said, joking that he and Stephanie have almost "gotten divorced three times over the years" because of it.

Stephanie said Steve is an avid hunter who will be able to do more hunting in his retirement, and they’ll take more trips to Arizona to see their grandchildren.

"It will just be nice to get up and have a cup of coffee in the morning and not have to go to our business," she said.

Knoche's Old Fashioned Butcher Shop is up for sale after 84 years in business. Stephanie Knoche, above, owns the business with her husband, Steve Knoche.

Stephanie said they even go in on Sundays, when the shop is closed, to check on the shop and get ready for the week.

"It's just time," she said. "It's sad, but it's time."

Steve calls himself a people person who's gotten to know a lot of his customers in the 60 years he's spent at the shop.

"We’ve got so many faithful customers," about 300 of whom he said he knows by name.

Steve said his meat is so high-end he has customers who drive up from Janesville. He also gets customers from as far as Minocqua who come once a month to stock up on meat, and he ships steaks to customers who have moved to Florida and Arizona and don't care how much it costs.

"There's something to our meat market," he said. "I don't know where the heck I’m gonna buy meat if I sell this place. That's gonna be a problem."

Wendy Ohlsen, right, mom to competitor Noah Ohlsen, and Sara Maciver cheer him on during the sixth workout of the CrossFit Games at Alliant Energy Center at in Madison, Wis., Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL

Alfredo Hernandez, left, high fives his 8-year-old son, Abriel, after he scored a run for the Pirates during a game for the Miracle League of Dane County at Phoebe Bakken Memorial Park in Cottage Grove, Wis., Thursday, July 14, 2022. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

Performing under the branches of an oak tree estimated to be at least 180 years old, members of the Madison-based Cycropia Aerial Dance company run through a rehearsal ahead of a pair of appearances at the Orton Park Festival in Madison, Wis. Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. Formed in 1989, the group has been a staple at the Marquette neighborhood gathering, which features four days of music, food, crafts and family activities. This year's program entails the work of 29 members, including dancers, stage hands, riggers and sound and video technicians. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

Voters cast their ballots at the Cherokee Country Club Tennis Courts in Madison, Wis., Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL

Sun Prairie East's Cortez LeGrant (23) celebrates his touchdown with teammate Corey Sammer (66) in the second quarter of a game against Monona Grove at the Bank of Sun Prairie Stadium at Ashley Field in Sun Prairie, Wis., Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

Steven Buhs, of Cape Girardeau, Mo. shares a ride with his nine-year-old Jack Russell Terrier Beagle mix, also known as a Jackabee, though Brittingham Park in Madison, Wis. Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. Buhs, who was also traveling with his wife, Maggie, said the couple are electric bike enthusiasts who travel regularly to various cycling-friendly cities, often exploring the more northern climes of the country in mid-summer. He estimates that the dog has logged approximately 10,000 miles during the course of their journeys. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

Liam Opperman, left, hands ears of corn to his younger brother Odin, 5, while harvesting sweet corn with his family at Stoneman Family Farm in Fitchburg, Wis., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL

Caitlin Patrick, 14, of Mount Horeb, goes into the water using a rope swing during an outing with friends at Stewart Lake County Park in Mount Horeb, Wis., Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

Anthony Kartsonas of Historic Surfaces, LLC carefully removes varnish from the surface of a mural dating to 1915 as part of an evaluation of ceiling paintings at the Wisconsin State Capitol building in Madison, Wis. Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. The painting is one of 64 panels that were not part of previous restoration efforts to the building and the inspection will help identify the best course of action for a future conservation of the works. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

Children play at Woodland Park while attending the Mala kids yoga and mindfulness summer camp in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL

Participants follow the lead of an instructor during a free stand up paddle board yoga class on Monona Bay sponsored by WIT Fitness at Brittingham Boats in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

Pa Lee Chang, foreground, leads a group of her friends through a dance she choreographed that was drawn from Hmong culture outside their homes in the Bayview Neighborhood of Madison, Wis. Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. One of two pieces they’ve been practicing for about a month, the girls will be presenting it wearing traditional attire during a party for her father this weekend. Other dancers include Diana Lor, Nouchee Lor, Katrina Lor and Jou Lor. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

Wisconsin middle blocker Anna Smrek high-fives fans prior to the start of the Red & White volleyball scrimmage at the UW Field House in Madison, Wis., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL

Paul Morrison, owner of The Wood Cycle of Wisconsin, shows some of the harvested wood on his property before it is milled in Oregon, Wis., Wednesday, July 20, 2022. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

Workers with Krause Construction of Coon Valley, Wis. continues a repair and renovation project to the steeple of St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Jefferson, Wis. Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. Built in 1866, the church is the home of the city's first Catholic parish and is situated on the site of a former log church built for the congregation in 1846. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

Wisconsin libero Shanel Bramschreiber returns a serve during the Red & White volleyball scrimmage at the UW Field House in Madison, Wis., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL

Will Gu, of Fitchburg, loads a fiddle leaf fig plant into his car after purchasing it from the new Costco in Verona, Wis., Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

With last week's auditions behind them, members of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band gather for their initial practice of the season on the campus of UW-Madison in Madison, Wis. Monday, Aug. 22, 2022. The group's first full performance will be Saturday, Sept. 3 when the Badger football team hosts Illinois State at Camp Randall Stadium. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

Marlow Hicks III does bench presses with a barbell during a fan event in Badgerville in Madison, Wis., Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL

Members of the University of Wisconsin Sailing Team, including Mabel Sliney, right, of Marblehead, Massachusetts and Marissa Tegeder, of Delafield, both sophomores, clean sailboats as they prepare for the fall season, outside Memorial Union on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wis., Monday, Aug. 29, 2022. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

Martha Siravo shares a moment with her daughter, Jaz, 10, at their apartment in Madison, Wis. Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. She is co-founder and president of Madtown Mommas and Disability Advocates. Her daughter, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, needs cognitive, behavioral and mobility support, is entering the fourth grade will be going back to full-time, in-person learning for the first time since 2020. Martha has been wheelchair-bound since sustaining a spinal cord injury in a vehicle accident in 2004. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

Middleton's Avery Passini breaks up a pass intended for Waunakee's Robert Booker during the first half Aug. 26, 2022, at Waunakee High School.

Brinley Krahn, 7, of Cottage Grove reacts as a butterfly lands on her daycare provider, Rhonda Smith, of Sun Prairie, during a visit to Olbrich's Blooming Butterflies in the Bolz Conservatory in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

Cousins Courtney and Emily Butzlaff of Kewaskum, Wis. pause for photo for a friend during a visit to a sunflower field at Kelley Country Creamery in Fond du Lac, Wis. Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. The fifth annual display helps raise funds through donations and sales of flowers and gifts for the Northeast Wisconsin Old Glory Honor Flights organization, which transports veterans to memorials in Washington, D.C. as well as other parts of Wisconsin. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

Waunakee teammates Danny Cotter (26), Rykker Cardenas (28) and Joey Thomas (69) celebrate a Warrior touchdown against Middleton Aug. 26.

Karen Ruiz fills out her ballot in the Wisconsin partisan primary election during a visit with her son, Grabiel, to her polling place at Steamfitters Local 601 in Madison, Wis. Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

Lauren Hebbe, 15, of Fort Atkinson, takes a nap with her Berkshire pigs at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, Wis., Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL

Walkers in Oconomowoc, Wis. enjoy the waning rays of a setting sun as a recent period of clear skies and comfortable temperatures encourage participation in a variety of outdoor summer activities Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

"You don't make a ton of money. It's a tough business nowadays."

Steve Knoche, of Knoche's Old Fashioned Butcher Shop

Get the latest local business news delivered FREE to your inbox weekly.

Wisconsin State Journal feature writer Samara Kalk Derby writes about the arts and brings you the latest news on the Madison area's eclectic restaurant scene. She can be reached at [email protected] or 608-252-6439.

A group of parents is suing the Eau Claire school district for its guidance to staff members on supporting transgender students.

A federal judge will allow an oil and gas pipeline to continue to flow on a northern Wisconsin American Indian reservation while its operators…

The race features swimming in Lake Monona, bicycling in Dane County, and running in the Downtown and UW-Madison campus area.

A manager said the company closed the store because it was in an older building with tenants above it, and there were often problems with the pipes.

Steve Knoche