Archived Story

Meat locker set to re-open in PR

Published 9:33am Wednesday, December 26, 2012 Updated 11:33am Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Pelican Rapids community welcomed a new business last year.

Business was booming at Heart O’ Lakes Quality Meats, offering butchering of beef, pork, bison, deer, elk and sheep, as well as curing, smoking, seasoning and slicing meats.

Less than a year later, owner Jason Stetz was forced to close up shop after a grease fire destroyed everything he’s worked for. The fire started in the smokehouse, and spread rapidly once bacon grease caught fire.

Three months after the business went up in flames, Heart O’ Lakes Quality Meats is getting ready to open once more.

With most of the rebuilding done, Heart O’ Lakes plans to re-open business as of Jan. 1.

“Builders, electricians and plumbers have been working their tails off to help us get up and running,” said Stetz. “Two weeks after the fire, we stood around and looking at it with fire inspector and finally got permission to knock it down. Things really took off from there.”

While insurance covered most of the rebuilding cost, the community also prompted the rebuilding.

“There was constant demand from the community,” said Stetz. “From inspectors to the city council, people just kept saying, ‘you’ve got to do it you’ve got to rebuild it’”

What Stetz didn’t expect was the outpouring from the community to help his family. After not having a paycheck for three months, things were looking pretty slim as the holidays approached.

“We didn’t ask for anything, but the JayCees came and did a benefit for us for our kids,” said Stetz. “They wanted to make sure we sure had Christmas gifts for our kids.”

Stetz is no stranger to supporting the community himself. In fact one of the only things saved from the fire was a donation he planned to make to the high school. Heart O’ Lakes had made up 300 brats to be sold as a fundraiser for the school at the upcoming homecoming football game.

“The day of the fire we had a semi here and were unloading the freezers into a refer trailer,” said Stetz. “The next day was homecoming, and I said go ahead and take them, they’re for you.”

The school did take the brats, but they donated proceeds to the Stetz family.

“The community has embraced us from day one,” said Stetz. “Eight farmers had their animals here for butchering when the fire broke out, and we lost them, but those same eight farmers are still customers.”

Rebuilding after nearly a year in business does have some advantages.

Heart O’ Lakes has expanded the front of the building, adding a 46 by 30 foot addition, after realizing they did not have adequate retail space. They have also relocated the smokehouse room to the north side of the building, and isolated it with a firewall and fire door.

“We absolutely don’t want this to happen again,” said Stetz.

Heart O’ Lakes is targeting a Jan. 1 opening, and is now taking orders. For more information, call Jason Stetz at 218-329-6481.

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