I recently learned that a Missoula icon is closing forever. This time it hits close to home.
One of my local grilling buddies called me a week ago to tell me an iconic Missoula business is closing forever.
I can’t imagine myself being more upset.
At first, I was stoic about the news.
Then denial set in.
I held it together, with my head in the sand for about a week and a half.
But today I went to the local business to hear for myself.
There is no sign announcing the news.
No hawker walking through malfunction junction letting people know.
It’s just business as usual.
I Waited My Turn And Then Headed Up To The Counter
The meat case is decimated.
Looking at what remains, I placed today’s order.
Two pounds ground beef, 8 hot dogs, and the largest New York Strip steak in the case.
I’ve been shopping at Diamond Bar Meats since 1998 when I moved to Missoula. I probably average 8-10 purchases a month at Diamond Bar Meats, or what I call The Meat Store.
With the exception of the seasonally offered lutefisk and lefse, there is about nothing available for sale in that store I haven’t enjoyed.
You’d have thought over the past 22 years I could have introduced myself to one of the fellas behind the counter, or at least learned some of their names.
But today with the butcher casually fetching my Frankfurters I rustled up the courage and simply asked the guy if it was true.
His nod spoke volumes.
Although I couldn’t see his facial expression due to the mask he was wearing, I fixed on his eyes.
They looked clearly through me. Possibly holding back some emotion. Searching for something to look forward to.
“This is the only job I’ve ever had,” he said when asked what would come next.
I’d heard the owners were tired but didn’t realize The Meat Store had been in business for 57 years.
I’d always presumed that even behind the mask, this butcher was one of the sons. An heir apparent to the craft which has been in the family for generations.
I’m told the infrastructure needed a little love to continue to operate for more than the next couple of years.
He said that “Meat prices went through the roof,” … amidst the COVID pandemic.
“The owner had grown tired of worrying if he had been operating in the black.”
I Always Try To Be On My Best Behavior At The Meat Store
This is the only business in Missoula where I’d actually said how bummed out I would be if they refused service to me like something from a Seinfeld episode.
It’s not just that Diamond Bar Meats is close to my house, and a part of my routine. I have a history with the store offerings.
The more I think about it the more I realize what a part of my life they are.
Diamond Bar Meats Has The Best Everyday Burger Blend I’ve Ever Tasted!
There are only two consistent choices for ground beef. Extra-lean, and super lean. Both are amazing. But the Extra-lean epitomizes what you think of when you eat a burger in the Big Sky State.
But it’s not just the burger meat.
I’ve written two cookbooks and developed hundreds of recipes over the years like this one on how to grill the perfect steak every time.
I’ve owned, tested, and reviewed dozens of grills and outdoor cookers, and the majority of the meat used was from Diamond Bar Meats. The Meat Store.
I Never Thought This Day Would Come
So I had no reason to plan for it.
Regardless, I’ve sourced grass-fed-beef from Australia. A5 Wagyu beef from Japan. Spot prawns from Alaska. Lobster from Maine, and heritage pork that was raised snacking on hazelnuts and apricots.
Those treats are all good. But not as good as something I can buy today and get today from a market less than a mile from my home.
Thank you Diamond Bar Meats!
Thank you for being my Meat Store and being partially responsible for this aspect of my career.
Although I will miss you dearly, you deserve a new chapter, wherever those endeavors take you.
This article orginally appeared on Grilling Montana and was republished at the request of the author.