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The website for Troy, Illinois, which is located more than 20 miles northeast of St. Louis, says ‘The City of Troy – Everything Within Reach.’ When it comes to access to quality meat in this growing community in Metro East, premium cuts of beef, chicken and pork have indeed been within reach for generations because of one local family.

Kelly’s Butcher Shop & Deli was founded at the AG Store in uptown Troy in 1948 by John Kelly, the great grandfather of current owner Brian Klueter. Brian’s uncle, Mike Klueter, moved the shop to its current location at the back of a gas station in 1981, where he owned and operated the family business for more than four decades before passing away in December 2023.

“I think my Uncle Mike would be happy with the way that we’re running things. We’re still doing the same thing he did, where we try to have everything available for people, at a good price and give them good stuff,” noted Brian during a sit-down interview at the very business where he has been working since he was a kid.

“I officially started when I was 16 years old in 1996. Before that, my uncle would have me come and clean up, do a few things that I could do as a young kid, and it was never easy. That’s how I started, and then I just never left,” said Brian with a smile.

“My uncle definitely wanted to make sure that people got good stuff,” Brian continues. “He kind of drilled it into me. You can try and pass along something that isn’t great, but the people aren’t going to come back.”

The success of the business has been reaffirmed by its growth. There is now a second Kelly’s Butcher Shop & Deli inside a popular grocery store in Troy.

A cut above

It has been said it requires genuine skill to properly cut and trim a piece of meat. There is no denying that Brian Klueter knows his business.

“There’s a bit of a science to cutting meat. You know, a good cut of meat is going to be tough to ruin,” said Brian. “However, cutting it the right way where you can get the best yield off of it or the best cuts, and the way that you cut the meat definitely has something to do with how tender it is or how it holds up. But a lot of times you’ve got to start with good stuff. If you do that, then you know you’re going to have a good end product. We can usually tell if something’s going to be a little bit better than something else. I can tell a lot by the way it cuts.”

Kelly’s Butcher Shop & Deli is far more than a place to purchase steak.

“We’re a full-service butcher shop,” said Brian. “ We make hot foods. We have hot specials, you know, beef, pork, chicken, and fish. Anything you could want, we’ve got it. We carry produce, seasonings, breading, sauces, all kinds of stuff.

“I think we’re up to about 20 different kinds of brats and sausage that we make here, kind of our own flavors. We’ve got everything, including jalapeño cheddar which everybody likes,” Brian explains with a grin. “We also make a chili cheese one that’s really good and a buffalo chicken that tastes like buffalo chicken dip.”

Kelly’s Butcher Shop & Deli also sells its own barbecue sauce that Brian has custom packaged for the store.

“It outsells all the big name brands. I also carry local brands from guys around here that also sell really well,” said Brian.

When you walk out of Kelly’s Butcher Shop & Deli with a great-looking steak or cut of beef, Brian says there is never a need to shop elsewhere for the right seasoning to dress it up.

“I’ve got a company that packages up some spices for us. We got our label on them. They’re really good,” said Brian. “We’ve got an ultimate steak that is really good, kind of like a Montreal Steak Seasoning, but maybe a little more coarse. We also have a smokehouse, chipotle lime, and bourbon pepper seasoning as well. They’re all really good.”

“The advantage of having a butcher shop, I think, is all the meat is cut fresh,” Brian explains. “We hand cut everything and people can pick out what they want. It’s not all pre-packaged. You can come in, pick whatever you want, and we can get it for you.”

Its more than a job

“What I like about being a butcher, number one, I get to deal with people. I like to talk to people. I’ve got the same customers coming in now that were here the first night I ever closed and worked by myself,” Brian recalled. “I’ve gotten the trust of people. It definitely means something that people count on me, count on us, to get them what they know is going to be good, and they don’t have to question it. They know they’re going to get good stuff.

“I like the fact that you’re taking something, and you know that that’s going to be somebody’s dinner, which sounds simple, but like Christmas time, the whole family could be coming over for a big ham or prime rib or something, you’ve got to have a little bit of a thought in the back of your head that ‘I had something to do with that,’” Brian exclaimed. “I don’t want to ruin a holiday, graduation, or Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, anything like that. I want to make sure that everybody gets the best stuff that they can.”

A family affair

Kelly’s Butcher Shop & Deli has a healthy-sized workforce for a business with its footprint with roughly 14-16 employees, one of whom is Brian’s mother who runs the deli counter.

“She came to work here probably ten or eleven years ago,” said Brian. “She is a great employee. Can’t ask for anything more. It’s awesome to work with my mom. I get to see her almost every day. We’re both

here to get stuff done and work hard to make sure everything gets accomplished.”

Community support

The business and the Klueter family stand strongly behind their dedication to their community. They do it by supporting area schools in Troy and the Triad of Metro East. The shop is also a significant contributor to community fundraisers and a regular sponsor of local sports teams.

“I think it’s a good community. I think everybody’s kind of together.” said Brian. “It’s a small town feel to it. Everybody knows everybody. There’s a couple people that if people need to talk to them, they come in here to find them, you know, because people are going in and out of here so much all the time.”

Life as a retailer

You might say Brian is an ambassador of sorts for his community with his amiable personality and his humble and earnest personality. He was more than happy to share two key ingredients of his “secret sauce” for his success as a retailer: keeping the customer happy and retaining good employees who are knowledgeable.

“We don’t try to do anything that we’re not. We just put good product out there and try and keep it as low as possible on the price. You know, I might not make enough money one way or another, but if people keep coming back, then hopefully you’ve got a customer for a long time.”

“I’m proud to be a butcher,” said Brian as he reflected on the legacy of his family business. “I’m proud of what we’ve done here at Kelly’s Butcher Shop & Deli. I’m proud of how we’ve grown. I’m proud of how hard we work to get good things out there.”

Spoken like a true ambassador of Troy, where remember, everything is within reach.

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