It’s not even on Jordan’s main street (Highway 21, aka Broadway). You have to turn on Water Street, a block past the one stoplight, and wander across the railroad tracks until you’re kitty-corner from the Jordan Feed Mill. There you’ll find the wall-sized mural on the brick building that houses a decades-old Jordan mainstay: Pekarna Meats.
Pekarna Meats opened in 1893, the venture of Frank Pekarna, a German immigrant. The current owners are fourth-generation Pekarnas, and the fifth generation are employed at the store too. Why Jordan? “Probably because it was part of the German community,” says Ken Pekarna, one of the current owners. He’s not the only one in the family with a long-term food business in this German community: His second cousin is the owner of Franke’s Bakery in nearby Montgomery, which specializes in the Eastern European delicacy known as kolacky (which is available for purchase at Pekarna). “We’ve got the butcher and baker, but missed the candlestick maker,” Pekarna cracks. He also has a little joshing for his uncle, who owns a dental practice down the street: “We call it the other butcher shop.”
Family jokes aside, Pekarna Meats is serious about its meat. The traditional sausages — bologna, wieners, summer sausage — are all made exactly as they were back in 1893. “No fillers, no MSG, we’re not heavy on preservatives or whatever,” says Pekarna. “No artificial smoke or flavors.” The only exception is the dried beef sticks, which contain MSG. The recipes have not been tampered with, and given how quickly they sell, there isn’t a good reason for them to be. Sometimes simple really is better: Take sausage made from good-quality pork, smoked carefully, and pop it on the grill. It’s hard to beat.
That’s not to say there’s no innovation going on. Pekarna Meats sells a dozen kinds of brats, including some more contemporary flavors such as jalapeno-cheddar and wild rice-cranberry. They’re smoked on site daily and are never frozen: “They just go too fast,” Pekarna says. He’s not exaggerating — spend some time there on a Saturday and watch them fly out the door.
Besides the full contingent of sausages, Pekarna Meats sells a full range of fresh beef, pork, and chicken products. There are freezer cases with a variety of meats and the store’s signature Au Jue (this is how Pekarna spells it): shredded beef, pork, and turkey in a flavorful broth. There’s also a small deli case with house-made salads (including a hearty, traditional German potato salad and — of course — a sausage salad), and, in season, locally picked asparagus.
Being part of a community the size of Jordan for so long means the staff knows many of its customers well enough to wisecrack with them too. It also means that they were among those disappointed at the recent setback for the Roets Jordan Brewery. Imagine the beer brats they could make with ale brewed three blocks away.
But even without access to that local ale, Pekarna Meats is worth a stop for its generations-old sausage recipes. Not to mention the banter among staff and regulars.
119 Water St
Jordan, MN 55352
OWNERS: Ken, John, and Greg Pekarna