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Kelso’s Kustom Meats celebrating 50-year anniversary

Jake Berg photo

Kelso’s Kustom Meats is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

SNOHOMISH — Barbecue season is here, and this summer Kelso’s Kustom Meats is celebrating its 50-year anniversary. The shop on Maple Avenue has been in the same location since Jack and Janice Kelso opened the business in 1970.
“We call it an old-timey meat market,” Janice said. “People will come in and they will say, ‘Oh, I don’t see any New York steak in your case,’ and we will say, ‘we’ll cut you some and how thick would you like them, and how many would you like?’ ”
They’re doing curbside and online orders at the moment. The lobby is closed.
The property was originally a meat market and gifted to the Kelsos by Janice’s parents. 
“My husband was a meat cutter and I was a housewife, and when we were given the property, my husband tore down the existing building,” Janice said.
Kustom Meats started as a butcher shop, specifically butchering and processing meat from local farms. A mobile unit was even used to slaughter livestock at the farm; they would bring back the meat for cutting and wrapping at the shop. 
“That was always our life, our meat plant. My husband’s gone now, but he worked there ‘til his last days,” Janice said. Jack passed a few years ago.
Although never moving locations, Kelso’s Kustom Meats went through some changes over the last 50 years.
“The farm butchering over the years got less and less,” Janice said. “That’s why (Jack) thought we should add on the retail meat market.”
Adding the retail market prompted a bit of construction.
“We had to completely make our building into two buildings,” Janice said. “We got busy and we eliminated the parking lot and built the custom part on the front of it. There was originally the one in the back.”
The “Kustom” part of the name refers to customers who need their livestock butchered for personal use. That meat cannot be sold at the retail market because it has not been federally inspected by the USDA.
“There is a wall between us now and we go from one door outside to the other door to get to the Kustom from the retail,” Janice said.
Kelso’s Kustom Meats no longer does the slaughtering but has a third-party perform the farm work, only the wrapping and cutting takes place at Kelso’s.
Kelso’s Kustom Meats is truly a family business, as Janice’s children, Kathy Baker and Pat, both work there along with Janice’s three grandsons.
“I am very fortunate to have them all,” Janice said. “When someone walks in, it’s like they’re walking into our home and are treated as such. I very much enjoy our people that come in day after day.”
Kelso’s Kustom Meats has gained attention and praise for the sausage links Pat makes. 
According to Janice, their Swedish potato sausage is very popular and has people driving from Seattle to get it.
“He’s always coming up with a new sausage that goes on the grill, too. We have quite a few flavors now,” Janice said.
The 50th anniversary of Kelso’s Kustom Meats falls in September, but they’re inviting the public to celebrate with them all summer long.



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