SAN MARCOS — Patrons of T&H Meats, a venerable meat shop in San Marcos, might have noticed something different over the past few months.
It wasn’t the signature sausages and the cuts of prime steak that have made the butcher shop a mainstay for nearly 30 years.
And for the most part, it wasn’t the faces of the employees, such as longtime butcher Armando Gonzalez, who has been cutting meats and filling sausage cases for going on 37 years.
But the change was noticeable — longtime owner and “sausage meister” Jacob Kappeler is gone, as T&H is under new ownership.
In his place, Dave Krohn, a local caterer and restaurant owner and longtime customer of T&H Meats, purchased the storefront located across the street from Mission Hills High School, as well as Kappeler’s secret recipes that have kept repeat customers coming back for years.
Krohn, a retired Marine who opened up his catering business, Chef DK Catering, 10 years ago after leaving the Marine Corps, said he started shopping at T&H three years ago on a friend’s recommendation. Soon, T&H meats was the meat of choice at his business, which also includes operating the Artisan Cafe, a seasonal restaurant that operates at the Moonlight Amphitheater in Vista.
Krohn said the meat shop had several things going for it that made it an easy decision to purchase it.
“When I found out it was for sale, I jumped at the chance,” Krohn said. “I think it is a combination of a few things. First, it has a great reputation for putting out a great, quality product. Second, it has a loyal following, and not just locally. People come down from Los Angeles, from Riverside County, from way out in Imperial County, just hundreds of miles, to pick up coolers full of steaks and sausages.”
Krohn also cited the shop’s custom processing – patrons can bring in livestock from local fairs or animals during hunting season and the butchers will process the meet into steaks, sausages, smoked meat, jerky or any cut of meat.
Krohn said he didn’t want to change what had been working for Kappeler — who owned the store for nearly 30 years after a career as a farmer in Imperial Valley after emigrating from Switzerland in the 1960s. This included the employees.
“Before I made the purchase, I met with all of the employees, and I asked them all the stay on, and they all said they would love to keep working here,” he said. “Very little has changed except for the ownership.”
There have been a few minor changes. Krohn said he has done some minor renovations, including a new roof and refrigeration units and electrical upgrades. Also, Krohn said, they have started purchasing beef that is certified Angus, a subtle upgrade that Krohn said will result in a higher quality steak.
The other change, Krohn said, is that he has started to expand the store’s wholesale business, snagging several high-profile new clients, including the Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara in Carlsbad, The Crosby National Golf Club and the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego.
I am definitely in it for the long haul,” Krohn said.
As for Kappeler, the Swiss man who became an award-winning sausage maker during his turn at the helm of T&H, he has moved to Washington State, where he has purchased a couple of acres on the Olympic Peninsula. He said he’s enjoying retirement, which includes lots of wine and the occasional sausage.
“I think I left a legacy of good product, we won so many awards for our sausage, so I’d like to think we left a nice legacy,” Kappeler said. “I am going to miss the people and all of our loyal customers, but I am enjoying what I am doing now, and so far, the feedback about Dave has been very good, so I am excited about it.
“I am very satisfied with the way things have worked out,” Kappeler said.