There’s one item northshore folks won’t have to add to that ever-growing list of things that “ain’t there no more”: the Saia’s Super Meat Market cow. The towering bovine landmark has welcomed shoppers to the Mandeville mecca of meat for a generation now.
Owner Alan Tyrone is about the only thing at Saia’s that’s been around longer than the cow, and he is happy both the store and its calling card (“calling cow”) have woven themselves into the fabric of Mandeville life. One big reason is that Saia’s provides something that, if not “ain’t there no more,” is certainly becoming a rare bird in a supermarket age—a full-service meat counter where you’ll be waited on by your neighborhood butcher.
“The meat market is the backbone of the store,” says Alan, without a hint of whether he was making a pun or not. Freshness in every item behind the counter is the key. “Some stores don’t have butchers anymore. Everything is cut somewhere else and shipped in pre-cut and pre-packaged, even the ground meat. We grind meat three or four times a day! Customers ask us at what time the meat was ground, not what day.”
While the market carries a good selection of staple grocery items such as milk, bread, butter, eggs and produce, Alan has seen—and met—a growing customer interest in maintaining a large selection of wine and spirits, which Saia’s sells for competitive prices. Saia’s is also known for its deli counter offerings of po-boy sandwiches and Saia’s specialty, fried chicken. “We got into it when there really was no fried chicken in Mandeville. We have a formula that works, and people love it. We cut it fresh every day; it’s never been frozen, and it’s marinated overnight.”
Alan is well aware of the place the store’s calling card has in residents’ hearts. Although it’s been stolen (“some kids towed it down the street”) and kidnapped (Alan’s buddies put it on a flatbed tow truck and parked it outside of his wedding reception), Alan couldn’t believe the post-Katrina panic he read about in some online journals. “We parked [the cow] behind the store for the storm. I read that people were saying, ‘Mandeville’s fine but the cow is gone!’”
So look for the cow next time you’re planning a special meal. While offering the freshest hand-cut meat and house-made sausage in town, Saia’s can also special-order any type of meat you could want, from prime beef to whole hogs.Filed under: Food and Drink, IN Great Taste, July-August 2011, Northshore Notables