Kris and Tessa Jesnowski have owned the Barrett Locker for nearly seven years, having purchased the butcher shop from his brother, Adam, in 2015. For the last three years, they have been making improvements, first the old freezer compressor had to go, then the entire electric system needed an upgrade, and they just finished their new, expanded cutting room, which is three times the square footage as their old one. The Jesnowskis have done all these while juggling the needs of their three young children, pandemic related shortages of contractors and supplies, and an incredibly busy butchering schedule.
“We are booked a year in advance,” Kris says pointing to his crowded calendar. “We have farmers booking a butchering date for cattle that aren’t even born yet.”
“It’s good to be busy… right?” he joked.
“Sometimes we just quit answering the phone,” Tessa admits.
When the Jesnowskis took over, the old butcher shop needed work. Barrett old-timers say the freezer’s condenser hadn’t been shut off since it was installed in 1969, and the electrical fuse panel was so old the state electric inspector took photos of it to use when he instructs new inspectors.
Kris Jesnowski worked on the road for Morton Buildings, and helped out at the Barrett Locker when his brother owned it. When Adam announced he wanted to sell, Kris and Tessa took the leap.
“I learned a lot from Adam, and YouTube,” Kris said, adding that other local butchers have also been very helpful in answering questions, and teaching techniques.
“Butchers tend to stick together.”
Currently, the Barrett Locker can process around eight cattle and six hogs a week. The carcasses hang for ten days to age and tenderize. They can smoke hams and produce beef sticks to order as well. The business employs two full time butchers and Tessa helps out as needed. She has plans for the former cutting room, hoping to add an office and perhaps a cooler for limited retail.
“Once the kids are all in school, I’ll have more time for the business,” she said.
The Jesnowski’s children are six, five, and three years old. The family lives south of Brandon.
Reluctantly, the Jesnowskis are having to turn away deer hunters this year, they simply don’t have the time to turn the shop over to processing deer for the next month.
“We send them to West Lake Taxidermy and Deer Processing just up the road,” Tessa said.
Butchers tend to stick together.