Sausage House deal a year in making
Jason Callhan and Jeremy Sheffler took over Monday as owners of Peabody Sausage House, but the idea had been brewing since a relative of previous owners Mike and Cheryl Berger mentioned it at last year’s Fourth of July.
“I mulled it over,” Callahan said. “It was just kind of a joke, and we were all out having fun.”
Callahan and Sheffler had been looking to buy the business in December but COVID-19 slowdowns delayed the process until recently.
The Bergers’ choice to entertain offers was brought on by minor health issues, a desire to see their grandchildren more, and Cheryl Berger’s growing list of activities.
Even when the sausage house was open to buyers, the couple wasn’t about to take any offer.
“We didn’t want to let just anybody in,” Mike said. “We were looking for somebody we thought could fill in with the community and with our customers, take over and do a good job.”
Callahan’s interest in meats is nothing new. He brings eight years’ experience working at Yoder Meats.
“It’s always fascinated me,” he said. “Things go in trends. Right now the trend is source-verified and farm-to-table stuff. That’s really popular now, but to me that’s always been a popular thing.”
The pair received help from various community members throughout the sale. “That tells me something about the camaraderie of the community, or the support behind us,” he said.
Mike Berger plans to help Callahan and Sheffler transition until the end of June, and all employees will stay with the business. It was important to ensure the business didn’t have major changes when it was bought, Callahan said.
The same people are making the sausages that have been making the sausage for the last 40 years,” he said. “This wasn’t a shutdown and restart up. We’re producing all the same recipes and providing them to the same accounts.”
While many businesses slowed down during COVID-19, small meat-packing companies didn’t see the same drop-off, Callahan said. Even with regulations loosening in recent weeks, Callahan said, the sausage house has orders booked out a full year.
One of the business’ advantages is its reputation beyond Marion County, Callahan said.
“Anyone who’s moved away remembers the taste of this meat because of their grandmother or something,” he said. “We bought a business but inherited an empire.”
Mike Berger advised the new owners it was most important to appreciate and thank every patron over the years. “Just take care of your customers and your customers will take care of you,” he said. “That’s how we always operated.”