WHITEHALL, Wis. – Pat’s Country Market has been one of the area’s best-known meat markets for decades.
That’s why, six years after it moved from Arcadia to Whitehall, customers are still driving to the market from as far away as La Crosse and Winona.
Tony and Marie Johnson, who have owned the business since 2003, moved it to 18461 Scranton St. in downtown Whitehall.
The Arcadia location closed at the end of January 2010 after the Johnsons sold the building to a developer who leveled it and constructed a new multi-tenant building. The market reopened in June 2010 at its current Whitehall location.
“The opportunity came up and the timing was right,” Tony said of the move to Whitehall, where he and his wife already were living in the home where he was raised. “The (Arcadia) building was old and it took a lot of electricity and heat.”
Tony began working for Pat’s Country Market owners Pat and Florence Nelson in 1979. The Nelsons had purchased the City Meat Market in Arcadia in 1963 and renamed it two years later when they moved to their second location.
In 1998, Tony married Marie, who also was working at the market in Arcadia. A year later, they moved to Whitehall and began commuting to work in Arcadia.
“Quite a few people still come here from places like Arcadia, Winona, Waumandee and La Crosse,” because of the market’s reputation for quality products, Tony said. But most customers live within 10 miles of Whitehall, he added.
“It was a name that was known,” Tony said of the couple’s decision to keep the Pat’s Country Market name when they moved the business to Whitehall.
The full-service meat market sells fresh meats and products such as sausage, bologna, wieners and bratwurst. It also processes venison, and it sells bakery products from Myers Bakery in Arcadia.
Tony said the meat market still uses original Pat’s Country Market recipes for meat products. “But we’ve added a lot of different flavors,” he said.
Bratwurst and summer sausage are the market’s two biggest-selling sausage products, which is why the Johnsons promote their business as the Wurst Haus in Whitehall.
“We keep 30 flavors on hand,” Tony said of the market’s bratwurst. “But we have recipes for over 50 flavors.”
The biggest seller is the Norse Brat, which Tony described as a traditional Wisconsin bratwurst.
Some other most popular flavors include mushroom and Swiss, garlic and onion, and the Packer Backer bratwurst made with aged cheddar cheese and green peppers.
Pat’s Country Market has 11 varieties of summer sausage. The biggest seller is beef and pork with garlic. Other popular flavors include German salami, beef and pork with garlic and cheddar cheese, traditional beef and pork, and Craisin.
Hamburger is the market’s biggest-selling fresh meat, followed by ribeye steaks and smoked pork chops.
Marie’s son, Nicolas Bettesworth, works full time at Pat’s Country Market, and the owners also have a part-time employee.
Sales have continued to grow at the Whitehall location, Tony said, and peak from September through March. During the school year people are home more often, he explained. “During the summer, their kids are out of school and they travel,” he said.
“I enjoy visiting with customers,” Tony said. “We get to see people from around the area that we’ve seen for years and years.”
He also enjoys his trade.
“When you take a piece of raw meat, add spices and make it into a good-tasting sausage, that makes you feel good,” Tony said.
“When you take a piece of raw meat, add spices and make it into a good-tasting sausage, that makes you feel good.” Tony Johnson
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