Marc’s exclusive Black Canyon Angus Beef is U.S.-raised, corn-fed beef graded “choice or higher.”
Always Angus Always Delicious
by Mimi Vanderhaven
If you’re one of those shoppers who saves a ton of money at Marc’s, only to give back your savings at the meat counter of the area’s over-priced grocery stores, then you might want to do what Mimi has started doing.
Buy your meat at Marc’s.
That’s right, Marc’s.
We all witnessed first-hand as company founder Marc Glassman developed one of the finest fresh produce departments in the nation (he sells one million bananas a week, by the way), but now he’s doing it with meats. The Northeast Ohio-based Marc’s recently completed a multi-year project of installing fresh meat departments in all of its stores—just in time for holiday meal planning. The challenge was to deliver the most flavorful, top-quality meat possible at the lowest cost to the consumer while following the most rigorous safety standards in the industry. Here, darling, is how they did it:
Black Canyon Angus Beef
Just as Marc Glassman and his team crisscrossed the nation during the development of their produce departments—from apple orchards in Washington State to potato fields in Idaho—they also hit the road for the development of the new meat departments, inspecting herds, touring processing plants and talking to food-safety experts in Missouri, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan and more. The result is the company’s remarkable partnership with Black Canyon Angus Beef, the brand chosen specifically for the stores and available in Northeast Ohio only at Marc’s.
“There was a lot of time and effort put into partnering with the right company,” Marc explains. “And the feedback from customers has been tremendous. The quality is excellent and people love it.”
Unlike some meats you may find at national chains and warehouse clubs, Black Canyon Angus Beef comes from U.S.-raised Angus steers fattened on corn, not less expensive grains, to meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture standard of “choice or higher”—a better grade than many supermarkets sell. Because the grade directly correlates to the tenderness and flavor of the meat, the beef you buy at Marc’s is unusually juicy and tender, yet holds to their low price philosophy. This high-quality/low-price combo is a testament to Marc Glassman’s single-minded perseverance. He is making the meat program his personal project, much the same way he did the fresh produce project before it was rolled out to all 61 of the company’s stores.
A Focus on Freshness
Marc’s commitment to freshness in its meat department is rooted in the success of its produce department, so let’s start there. In order to offer such high-quality produce at Marc’s trademark low prices, Marc himself visited farmers and co-ops from Ohio to California to get the best deals on the best and freshest items. Then he acquired a 100,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled facility near his corporate headquarters right here in Cleveland so the produce could be shipped directly to him rather than to some middleman. Each section of the facility is cooled to the ideal temperature for the fruit or vegetable it nurtures—from 48 degrees down to 33 degrees (if you get the chance to tour the facility, darling, wear your parka).
Not having a middleman not only means low prices, it means Marc and his team are on a first-name basis with farmers who furnish the stores with plump pistachios, and they talk fresh fruit with some of the world’s largest growers. They know the guys who grow the asparagus you will buy for Thanksgiving dinner, and probably will have seen those spears growing in the fields. If you haven’t visited a Marc’s lately, go and be amazed at the gorgeous array of fresh vegetables and fruits.
The proper handling of produce drives Marc’s success in that department and the same is true for meat. To avoid the inconsistent sanitary conditions of on-site butcher shops, Marc decided that all of the beef destined for his stores would be processed at a single plant so that safety procedures could be closely monitored. The company chose an air-controlled, cleanliness-obsessed plant in Michigan that features USDA inspectors on the premises. A series of filters and temperature controls keep the meat ultra-fresh at a temperature range of 28 and 32 degrees (that’s just above the freezing point of beef) from the time it enters the door of the facility to the moment it is placed in Marc’s meat cases. The cases are overseen by store employees who continuously undergo training in how to handle fresh meat, and are knowledgeable about its origins and the various cuts. Plus, all Black Canyon meat at Marc’s is delivered daily to ensure the highest quality and freshness.
But even these safety and freshness controls weren’t good enough for Marc. That’s why every cut of beef—from strip steaks to hamburger—is placed in special black packaging to ensure the freshest product possible.
“We wouldn’t sell our customers anything we wouldn’t put on our own tables,” Marc says simply.
The other meats sold at Marc’s enjoy the same scrutiny. After visiting farms and processors (which Marc and his team still do), they chose top brands of fresh pork, chicken and turkey, and began buying it in large quantities to provide the best quality at the lowest cost. Brands include Primo sausage, Butterball turkey, Sugardale ham, and Amish Valley chicken. Marc’s also carries all of the popular varieties of ground beef.
Cold Cut Counters
The new meat departments are just the latest improvement at Marc’s, which is becoming known as the smart place to shop for all kinds of high-quality foods. The improvements, Marc points out, all have been driven by customer demand.
“We’re very customer-focused,” Marc notes. “The reason we started offering high-quality meat is because customers asked us for it.”
Now customers are asking for full-service cold cut counters, and Marc’s is in the process of rolling them out to many of the stores. With Marc’s track record, shoppers can trust the quality and freshness of the meats and salads in the curved, Euro-style cases. In fact, Marc mentions, instead of sending only the cold cut counter managers to a safe-handling course, as many stores do, Marc’s is training every worker.
“We want to make sure that customers with questions will get knowledgeable answers on the spot,” Marc says.
Marc’s, with stores throughout Northeast Ohio as well as Columbus, Youngstown and Connecticut, is headquartered at 5841 W. 130th St. in Cleveland, OH 44130. The phone is (216) 265-7700.