Herman's Quality Meat Shoppe Celebrates 50 Years
Employees reflect on the Newark staple's commitment to community.
Nestled at the corner of East Cleveland Avenue and Wilbur Street in Newark, Herman's Quality Meat Shoppe has been upholding its name as the “home of quality and custom fresh-cut meats” since 1967.
The retail meat store sells everything from fresh beef, pork, chicken, fish and hams to organic produce, self-made lunch meat and sandwiches.
Following a 50-year anniversary celebration on Oct. 14—which featured a cake from Bing’s Bakery and tributes from Sen. David P. Sokola and Rep. Paul Baumbach—store owner Christine Herman says the staff plans to commemorate the milestone all year long.
Herman's began in the 1900s as a family-owned business at the end of Main Street in Newark, now a University of Delaware parking garage. The Steele family sold the shop to the McMullen family, who hired Christine Herman’s father-in-law, Luther Herman, as an employee.
The McMullens eventually sold the shop to Luther Herman and his wife Jeanette on Oct. 14, 1967. The shop remained on Main Street for about three years, until the university eventually overtook the lease. The family then moved the establishment to its present location on East Cleveland Avenue. In 1992, Luther Herman sold the meat shop to his son and daughter-in-law, Timothy and Christine Herman. Timothy passed away on Oct. 8, 2008, after which Christine took over as the sole owner.
Although the shop's paint, appliances and flooring have been updated throughout the years, Christine says that its values remain unchanged.
“The physical side might be somewhat different but the philosophy, the worth ethic and what we do here is the same,” she says, emphasizing that community has always been at the heart of the business.
“The community is here to help me, and I am here to help the community,” Christine says. “It’s been that way for all of these years.”
As Newark evolved, Christine began to notice that her customer demographic was shifting from local residents to predominantly college students. And while many regulars continued frequenting the shop, a growing number of students (and their visiting parents) began requesting sandwiches. At the time the shop did not have the proper licensing to make and sell full sandwiches, so she crafted a cardboard kit of sandwich ingredients that customers could then assemble.
About four years ago she obtained the licensing needed to make sandwiches on the premises.
“That’s how a lot of the change and evolution has taken place,” she says. “If you can’t beat them, join them. That’s how you grow. You can’t stay stagnant—you have to grow and meet the needs of the community.”
Other employees at Herman’s echo Christine's emphasis on community. Craig Lightcap and Sandra Bell were both Herman’s customers for over 30 years before they retired from their previous occupations and decided to work at the meat shop.
“You learn something every day,” Lightcap of Glenfarms, Md., says. “It’s the best place I’ve ever worked.”
Head butcher John Skopowski of Newark has been working at Herman’s since he was a teenager. After graduating high school, he began to learn proper meat-cutting techniques. He says the Hermans have taught him everything he knows about being a butcher, and that he has loved getting to know the family over the past 10 years.
Christine says that her husband continuously upheld their shop's community-centered values—even during the last year of his life while he was very sick. He insisted on being at the shop each day for his customers, regardless of how ill he may have been feeling.
“That was his passion,” Christine says. “That is what got him up and out of bed every day. It was an inspiration to me but it has also now [been] transferred to me. [I may be] tired today but I know I have a responsibility and other people counting on me. I want to come into work and be a part of that need.”
An earlier version of this article appeared on UDReview.com.