After 24 years of running Mark’s Meats on Main Street in Halstead, last December, Mark Tittel decided to hand over the cleaver. By February, he had a buyer for his popular butcher shop.
Jordan Champion of Andale decided to leave the construction business and run the well-known processing market. Champion is an avid hunter and brings his deer to Mark’s for processing each year.
“It was a natural fit,” Champion said. “It’s just something we wanted to get into.”
Tittel agreed to stay on for a year or so to help in the transition. And the workers stayed on as well.
The name changed to Champs Meats and the signage went up.
This state-inspected shop caters to locals who want to buy meat from Reno and Harvey county farmers, and process their cattle, goats, lambs and pigs locally. During deer season, the butcher shop works on deer seven days a week, processing about 1,000-head a year.
“We block November and December out for deer,” Champion said.
Because they can only process from 15 to 20 head of cattle, hogs or sheep a week, the slate is full through next summer. But Champion hopes to expand and possibly have more openings. As for the meat they sell, Champion wants to keep it coming from local ranchers.
“Taking it directly from the ranchers hands and feeding it to Americans is what I want to keep doing,” he said. “The idea of knowing what you are buying is important to us.”
Champion also wants to keep Tittel’s beef jerky going.
“It comes off the inside round,” he said. “It’s very good.”
Although all the meat that is for sale at Champs Meats comes from Harvey and Reno counties, ranchers who get their animals processed there drive from all over Kansas — though mainly from Stafford to Butler counties — and all the way down to Oklahoma.
Chet Collier from Oklahoma City said he has come to Mark’s, which is now Champs, for a while. He is happy with the work they do and will continue driving up from the Sooner State.
Champion is happy to keep a lot of Tittel’s practices, including his special-recipe bologna and scale.
“We figured we’d leave a little bit of history here,” Champion said. “We want to keep buying local.”