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Where There’s a Wilkes, There’s a Way

Will Venson selling the first piece of A5 Wagyu ribeye for $119.95/lb. (1/5/21)

“There’s a right way, there’s a wrong way, and there’s the Wilkes way.”- Ronnie Wilkes

Wilkes Meat Market is one of the most prominent butcher shop chains in the southeast, and Ronnie Wilkes owns multiple locations. Many businesses have been taken through a loop during the COVID-19 pandemic and some have even had trouble staying open or closed completely, but not Wilkes Meat Market.

“The shop has actually taken a step forward during this time,” Wilkes says. “We made more profit in 2020 than we have in any years past.” For Wilkes, this is an impressive achievement.

Ronnie Wilkes is a fourth-generation butcher, and his family has been in the meat industry for nearly a century now. “Every time he comes into the shop, he talks about the Wilkes tradition,” says Will Venson, an employee at the new Flowery Branch location. “They even make me say, ‘Wilkes tradition, this is Will,’ when I answer the phone.”

“When all of this started, I was worried that all of my family’s hard work would go down the drain,” Wilkes said, “then I saw the numbers at the end of March, and I had never been so relieved.”

Kris O’Connell, the manager at the new location, was an assistant manager at the Suwanee location during what he called “the initial panic.”As Kroger, Publix and other major grocery store chains began running out of meat, Wilkes saw their numbers rise quickly.

O’Connell recited his memory of the “busiest work week of my life. I’ve never seen it so busy. Between everybody panicking, trying to stock up, and Mother’s Day coming up, we ended up breaking weekly sales records. Many new customers found us during that time that still come to the shop on a regular basis.”

The influx of customers has helped the workers as well.

“As much as everybody hates being busy all the time, this rush has gotten our employees more hours and they’ve all become much better with customers and cutting meat,” O’Connell said. “I know it’s really served me well because they made me the manager at the new location.”

The new Flowery Branch location took over Block N’ Blade butcher shop on January 2.

“We have already seen more customers in the first couple weeks of January than we saw the entire month last year,” Venson said, a former employee of Block N’ Blade.

Wilkes plans on being able to open up the shop more in the coming months. Following in the footsteps of their other locations, Wilkes says they plan on starting to cook lunch for their customers, ranging from ribs to wings to their classic Brunswick stew.

Whether this is due to the pandemic or Wilkes taking over, Wilkes Meat Market of Flowery Branch looks to be in great shape for the future with the help of the Wilkes tradition and Kris O’Connell.

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    Sheena GabrielleJan 28, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you Andrew, I miss getting my meat from them, can’t find good meat anywhere near me, they are the best I’ve ever had,

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Where There’s a Wilkes, There’s a Way