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Chain Grocery Store "Butcher" Stories & Other Tales


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Just came home from Kroger and had another "experience" with the manager of the meat department.  I am not a demanding guy ...but for some reason I have had ongoing issues with this guy and the deli people at Walmart for several years.  The Walmart deli people run in behind the wall behind the counter when they see me coming (I'll explain later ...)

First of all, let's be frank ...calling these people "butchers" is like calling me a heart surgeon.  

I live in a suburb of a decent sized city that does not a true butcher shop.  We do have something closer than what the chain stores offer, but it's 20 plus minutes away and sometimes it just doesn't work out for me to go there.  

Anyone else run into this?  What are your stories?

Today's experience with the fat, lazy bastard meat department manager at Kroger:

(background:  this guy always purposely doesn't look at you and fiddles with something for 10-15 seconds before acknowledging you with a non-friendly "yeah ...". He then proceeds with short, non-informative answers to your questions, and a disgusted grimace when you have to ask follow up questions to try and understand what the hell is going on). 

Set up:  Kroger Wednesday's flyer - $19.99 lobster tails, I show up at the meat/seafood counter at 2:30pm Wednesday.  I see no lobster or even a space for them.  Manager guy sees me standing there and averts his eye contact and proceeds to shuffle meat trays for a bit ...accomplishing nothing. Finally he looks up:

KMgr:  yeah?

Binky:  I was looking for that lobster that was on sale.

KMgr:  All sold out.  

Binky:  Wow - it's a week long sale, you're out already?

KMgr:  yep.   (doesn't offer any other information ...LIKE WHEN MORE ARE COMING????)

Binky:  When are you getting more? (Based on past experiences ...I want to ask why the #### did he not order more - it's a GD week sale!!!)

KMgr:  truck tonight.

Binky:  ok, thanks!

Come back next day at 1pm (today/Thursday) ...we had a bit of snow/ice but roads are decent and Kroger is fully open.  Go to meat/deli counter ...completely empty like the department is closed. I assume it's close due to weather.  KMgr walks out from the back, makes eye contact ...then ignores me.  Weighs a large vacuum-packed tenderloin for a bit and slaps the sticker on it.  

KMgr:  yeah?

Binky:  yeah, I was looking for those lobster tails on sale

KMgr:  they ain't out.

Binky:  where are they? I thought they were supposed to come in last night?

KMgr:  they're on the truck

(I pause, waiting on him to fill in the blanks ...nothing)

Binky:  is the truck here? (thinking maybe it got delayed due to weather/road conditions)

KMgr:  yeah.

(again ...pause, waiting for the mystery of the tails to be unveiled ...nothing)

Binky:  when might the tails be unloaded?

KMgr:  tomorrow (wait ...what?)

Binky:  tomorrow??

KMgr:  yeah, department called off, can't be unloaded (thoroughly disgusted look as though I should have already understood that through his grunts)

(scene)

Hey, it wasn't his fault the department called off - it's this guy's attitude.  Clearly this guy has an issue with me, I haven't stuck around to see how he treats other customers but I do know I've never seen him move faster than a snail's pace and his only expression is that of a depressed nihilist. 

 

Next up - KMgr Christmas story and selling suet within the limits of the law

Coming soon - the Walmart deli group and the impossibility of chipped (shaved) chopped ham lunchmeat. 

 

 

 

 

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You didnt explain why the Walmart deli people run in behind the wall behind the counter when they see you coming. Im not saying you are the problem, but with little detail, you have issues with two sets of people at two different delis? 

 

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4 minutes ago, Cjw_55106 said:

You didnt explain why the Walmart deli people run in behind the wall behind the counter when they see you coming. Im not saying you are the problem, but with little detail, you have issues with two sets of people at two different delis? 

 

I was prepared for people saying I was the problem (see tuna fish and/Walgreens threads - lol).  

So I'll go ahead and tell the Walmart deli story.

I grew up in southern Ohio with something called chip-chop ham.  It's really a processed lunchmeat called chopped ham that has been "chipped" (like even thinner than shaved).  It's big thing around the Youngstown/Pittsburgh area as well - a place called Isaly's is famous for it.  It is melt in your mouth delicious - I don't care if it has a lot of fat ...fat is flavor.) And it's cheap - $3.99/lb. in a world where lunchmeat is more typically $8 - $10/lb at the deli counter.  

Here's the thing about chipped chopped ham ...it really needs to be chipped ...I mean see-through thin.  Otherwise the texture is pretty unpleasant - instead of dissolving in your mouth.  

In Ohio/W PA where it's a "thing" ...you just roll up to the counter and ask for a couple of pounds of chip-chop ham and they bang it out.  No big deal.  

Well down here where I live, they don't know about it, don't understand it, and sure as hell don't like slicing it.  To do it right, it takes them awhile and they don't like that.  And they want to argue that it can't be done.  The thing is - the new guy/gal that I explain it them - does it great.  Yeah, it takes a while, but their slicer will do it.  Others - including every one of the many deli department manager at my local Walmart I have ever come in contact with, wants to tell me it can't be done.  

When they in fact have done it, they just hate doing it.

Typical conversation:

Binky:  2lbs of the chopped ham - shaved ...like see-through.  Ya got to put it just the tiniest bit past zero.  

WMDC:  slices - how about this?  

First of all what they typically show me has been put on "1" like that's going to do it.

Binky:  no, really ...it's got to be on just past zero - maybe zero (which is the answer sometimes depending on any adjustments the guy who sharpens the blade may or may not have made the last time he sharpened it).

WMDC:  blank stare - but if it's on zero it won't slice

Binky:  can you try it?  

At this point one of several things happen:

Outcome 1

WMDC: tries it ...how about this? (it actually looks good)

Binky: perfect!  keep it coming

Outcome 2 (deli counter with attitude)

WMDC: see ..it's on zero ...nothing

Binky:  try just moving a tiny bit then

WMDC: I already did that ...before was as thin as it can go

Binky: I was just here last week - the guy did it perfect

WMDC:  I don't know what he did, but that's it

Outcome 3 (mgr that already knows what I want)

Binky: 2lbs shaved chopped ham please

Mgr:  we don't do that ...it gums up the machine

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38 minutes ago, Cjw_55106 said:

You didnt explain why the Walmart deli people run in behind the wall behind the counter when they see you coming. Im not saying you are the problem, but with little detail, you have issues with two sets of people at two different delis? 

 

I mean we "all know" who the problem is but really don't want to make said person feel bad

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Walmart chip-chop ham cont'

Two weeks ago - a new kid did a great job, took him a while, but did it with a smile on his face.  It was beautiful, we scarfed it up, we hadn't had in quite a while (they quit carrying it) and really missed it.  I went in the week after - it was a different new kid ...totally different experience:

New kid did the "put it on 1 or a little below" and says "how's this" - I tell him it's not even close ...

He drops the slice on slicer and walks behind the wall.

His boss (don't know if it's shift mgr or full mgr) comes out behind the wall with the new kid in tow and says "what's the problem?" 

I explain the need for the shaved slice, why it's important, and what a great job one of the other employees did the week prior.

He gives it a half-hearted try and I suggest the "try the zero option"

He proceeds to briefly lecture me on why the zero on the dial "means zero" - and get the "see?  ...nothing"

 

ETA:  We have an older couple that are close friends that live in our neighborhood - they are from Pittsburgh - she is about the sweetest little old lady you will ever meet.

She gets the same treatment from the deli counter staff when she asks them to shave it.    

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Binky The Doormat
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Guys - I'm fully ready to take the grief - :lmao:.

I am frustrated and completely realize how this comes off as "get off my lawn" old man yelling.  

 

ETA:  I thought the sharing of my anger and angst might bring a bit of joy to your hearts.  

 

 

Edited by Binky The Doormat
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now i'm all hungry thinking about Isaly's. chipped ham for salt, ice cream for sweet. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

 

 

ETA: and i'm fat

Edited by wikkidpissah
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Your issue is that you want one of those local things that other people will never understand.  Much like a Pork Roll Egg and Cheese on the jersey shore.  You can't recreate it somewhere else without driving people crazy so easier just to save it for those moments when you are home.  

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28 minutes ago, wikkidpissah said:

now i'm all hungry thinking about Isaly's. chipped ham for salt, ice cream for sweet. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

 

 

ETA: and i'm fat

gonna have to assume you have done the bbq chip-ham - gotta burn the edges some

I prefer using a real bbq sauce or chili sauce instead of ketchup though ...

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14 minutes ago, Redwes25 said:

Your issue is that you want one of those local things that other people will never understand.  Much like a Pork Roll Egg and Cheese on the jersey shore.  You can't recreate it somewhere else without driving people crazy so easier just to save it for those moments when you are home.  

I'm with ya, but there is a difference - you can't find the slab of pork roll anywhere but a few places in the country.

This is the same block of processed meat.  It's just the slicing of it.  

Especially love the ones that try and tell that it can't be done - like their "deli professionals" and they know.

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5 minutes ago, Binky The Doormat said:

I'm with ya, but there is a difference - you can't find the slab of pork roll anywhere but a few places in the country.

This is the same block of processed meat.  It's just the slicing of it.  

Especially love the ones that try and tell that it can't be done - like they're "deli professionals" and they know.

 

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7 minutes ago, Binky The Doormat said:

gonna have to assume you have done the bbq chip-ham - gotta burn the edges some

I prefer using a real bbq sauce or chili sauce instead of ketchup though ...

no, it's been almost 50 yrs sine i been to an Isaly's - my Pgh uncle used to take me to one before Pirates games when i'd visit. but i can still taste it...

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3 minutes ago, Rattle and Hum said:

Perhaps someone could start a GoFundMe to purchase a meat slicer for Binky. One that can toggle down to .1? I would happily start it but it's time for my break.

maybe Sarah Maclachlan will do a song for him

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12 minutes ago, Soulfly3 said:

as a canadian living along the border and having done pretty extensive travelling in the US, i have yet to see a "suburb of a decent sized city" that isn't spoiled for choice.

wal mart? kroger? 

not sure I follow - you mean why aren't there better places to find what I'm looking for?

we do have a very small specialty shop that has a small selection of expensive cuts of meat and imported proscuitto - a Fresh Market, Whole Foods, etc. but this is not that kind of food item.  It's a $4/lb poor man's lunchmeat that we happen to love - it just needs to be shaved.   

Seems as though Kroger is too "uppity" to carry it in the deli case - they typically put one or two of their lower tier lunchmeats on sale at $5.99/lb - and everything else is $7.99 and up.

you can find the packaged slices ...which are entirely way too thickly sliced

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2 hours ago, Binky The Doormat said:

I was prepared for people saying I was the problem (see tuna fish and/Walgreens threads - lol).  

So I'll go ahead and tell the Walmart deli story.

I grew up in southern Ohio with something called chip-chop ham.  It's really a processed lunchmeat called chopped ham that has been "chipped" (like even thinner than shaved).  It's big thing around the Youngstown/Pittsburgh area as well - a place called Isaly's is famous for it.  It is melt in your mouth delicious - I don't care if it has a lot of fat ...fat is flavor.) And it's cheap - $3.99/lb. in a world where lunchmeat is more typically $8 - $10/lb at the deli counter.  

Here's the thing about chipped chopped ham ...it really needs to be chipped ...I mean see-through thin.  Otherwise the texture is pretty unpleasant - instead of dissolving in your mouth.  

In Ohio/W PA where it's a "thing" ...you just roll up to the counter and ask for a couple of pounds of chip-chop ham and they bang it out.  No big deal.  

Well down here where I live, they don't know about it, don't understand it, and sure as hell don't like slicing it.  To do it right, it takes them awhile and they don't like that.  And they want to argue that it can't be done.  The thing is - the new guy/gal that I explain it them - does it great.  Yeah, it takes a while, but their slicer will do it.  Others - including every one of the many deli department manager at my local Walmart I have ever come in contact with, wants to tell me it can't be done.  

When they in fact have done it, they just hate doing it.

Typical conversation:

Binky:  2lbs of the chopped ham - shaved ...like see-through.  Ya got to put it just the tiniest bit past zero.  

WMDC:  slices - how about this?  

First of all what they typically show me has been put on "1" like that's going to do it.

Binky:  no, really ...it's got to be on just past zero - maybe zero (which is the answer sometimes depending on any adjustments the guy who sharpens the blade may or may not have made the last time he sharpened it).

WMDC:  blank stare - but if it's on zero it won't slice

Binky:  can you try it?  

At this point one of several things happen:

Outcome 1

WMDC: tries it ...how about this? (it actually looks good)

Binky: perfect!  keep it coming

Outcome 2 (deli counter with attitude)

WMDC: see ..it's on zero ...nothing

Binky:  try just moving a tiny bit then

WMDC: I already did that ...before was as thin as it can go

Binky: I was just here last week - the guy did it perfect

WMDC:  I don't know what he did, but that's it

Outcome 3 (mgr that already knows what I want)

Binky: 2lbs shaved chopped ham please

Mgr:  we don't do that ...it gums up the machine

Better to remain silent and  be thought you are the issue than to speak and to remove all doubt

Edited by Cjw_55106
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I worked in a butcher shop for 9 years, and there were definitely customers where when they came in, we would “head for zee hills” and whatever poor schmuck was left had to wait on them. 

Fun fact: One of them was Bill Romanowski’s wife. 

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40 minutes ago, Scoresman said:

I worked in a butcher shop for 9 years, and there were definitely customers where when they came in, we would “head for zee hills” and whatever poor schmuck was left had to wait on them. 

Fun fact: One of them was Bill Romanowski’s wife. 

roids.

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I do recall going toe to toe with the Kroger meat market near my house in Houston many times.  I had just learned how much better fresh ground beef was vs. buying the pre-ground stuff.  So instead of buying ground chuck I would pick up a chuck roast and ask the "butcher" to grind it for me. As a bonus, many times it was cheaper than pre-ground as well.  But, as if it was in the training manual, their initial response in order to save the effort was "you know it's not worth it, you're going to lose weight through waste by grinding it". They were never happy when I told them I didn't care and was OK with that. Some of the more creative ones would try to tell me that the grinder was broken or put away for the day, etc. I soon discovered that HEB was always good about it and started shopping exclusively at HEB from then on out.

But, even so, I finally broke down and bought a grinder. It's come in handy for way more than hamburger so it's worked out.

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28 minutes ago, Ron Swanson said:

I do recall going toe to toe with the Kroger meat market near my house in Houston many times.  I had just learned how much better fresh ground beef was vs. buying the pre-ground stuff.  So instead of buying ground chuck I would pick up a chuck roast and ask the "butcher" to grind it for me. As a bonus, many times it was cheaper than pre-ground as well.  But, as if it was in the training manual, their initial response in order to save the effort was "you know it's not worth it, you're going to lose weight through waste by grinding it". They were never happy when I told them I didn't care and was OK with that. Some of the more creative ones would try to tell me that the grinder was broken or put away for the day, etc. I soon discovered that HEB was always good about it and started shopping exclusively at HEB from then on out.

But, even so, I finally broke down and bought a grinder. It's come in handy for way more than hamburger so it's worked out.

Ok, now an important question.  What meat grinder do you own/recomend as I like this idea.  

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16 minutes ago, Ron Swanson said:

I do recall going toe to toe with the Kroger meat market near my house in Houston many times.  I had just learned how much better fresh ground beef was vs. buying the pre-ground stuff.  So instead of buying ground chuck I would pick up a chuck roast and ask the "butcher" to grind it for me. As a bonus, many times it was cheaper than pre-ground as well.  But, as if it was in the training manual, their initial response in order to save the effort was "you know it's not worth it, you're going to lose weight through waste by grinding it". They were never happy when I told them I didn't care and was OK with that. Some of the more creative ones would try to tell me that the grinder was broken or put away for the day, etc. I soon discovered that HEB was always good about it and started shopping exclusively at HEB from then on out.

But, even so, I finally broke down and bought a grinder. It's come in handy for way more than hamburger so it's worked out.

YES! YES! Exactly!

Somebody gets it! 

It's like "it's a great job if it wasn't for these customers asking me for stuff."

I have a grinder but am a bit lazy to use as often as I should - and ya gotta cube it, cube some fat, and stick it in the freezer for a bit.  Typically I'll break it out when I do ground lamb for kafte.  Ground lamb is $10/lb at the store ($9 if on sale) - I can buy a boneless leg of lamb at Sams for a little over $5/lb.  

btw ...if anyone has a Fresh Market close by, they do a $2.99/ground chuck every Tuesday - guy said it was their beef trimmings from the week so it has all kinds of great cuts in it.  It's great stuff ...quit buying burger any other way.  

 

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8 minutes ago, Redwes25 said:

Ok, now an important question.  What meat grinder do you own/recomend as I like this idea.  

https://www.amazon.com/VillaWare-V5265-05-Power-Meat-Grinder/dp/B00004RFRX

 

I inherited this model from my dad, my brother bought it for him 20+ years ago. Works great. I buy roasts and cut them into strips about hotlink diameter. The grinder chews right through them, it only takes a couple of minutes to do 5lbs.

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19 minutes ago, Redwes25 said:

Ok, now an important question.  What meat grinder do you own/recomend as I like this idea.  

you were asking Ron, but I'll throw mine in here ...

we use the grinder attachment on the KitchenAid mixer, works great for us

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I can't wait for that grocery store Checkout kid DJ to come in and give us the hard hitting behind the scenes perspective. :popcorn: 

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The guys at my Kroger "butcher" are pretty good, although they've had some turnover in recent months.  I'll often get salmon put in one of their oven bags during winter months, and guy a few weeks ago was arguing with me that the dill I wanted was actually rosemary.

The deli is the worst, though.  I think they go slow on purpose.  There's also a guy there I try to avoid.  One time a few months ago, I walk up to the counter, and I see him blowing his nose.  He sees me and starts putting on gloves.  I have to ask him wash his hands.  "You want me to wash my hands?"  "Yes I do"  This was like an episode right out of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Then a few weeks later, I walk up to the counter, he's cleaning up, sweeping and using the dust pan, with his gloves on.  He sees me, asks me my order, then continues to prepare it without changing his gloves.  I didn't feel like getting into an argument so I just left it by the register when I checked out.

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34 minutes ago, shuke said:

The guys at my Kroger "butcher" are pretty good, although they've had some turnover in recent months.  I'll often get salmon put in one of their oven bags during winter months, and guy a few weeks ago was arguing with me that the dill I wanted was actually rosemary.

The deli is the worst, though.  I think they go slow on purpose.  There's also a guy there I try to avoid.  One time a few months ago, I walk up to the counter, and I see him blowing his nose.  He sees me and starts putting on gloves.  I have to ask him wash his hands.  "You want me to wash my hands?"  "Yes I do"  This was like an episode right out of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Then a few weeks later, I walk up to the counter, he's cleaning up, sweeping and using the dust pan, with his gloves on.  He sees me, asks me my order, then continues to prepare it without changing his gloves.  I didn't feel like getting into an argument so I just left it by the register when I checked out.

nailed it.  

 

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Just now, Doug B said:

That chip-chop ham sounds like something that can be done much better with a new blade. Or at least a freshly-sharpened one.

no doubt, and I think that really may prevent from getting it thin at times -

though I can't imagine that the deli shift managers don't monitor this regularly :rolleyes:

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