March 15, 2021

Amber Gibson

  • Share this story
  • Share Spotlight: Thurn’s Specialty Meatson Twitter
  • Share Spotlight: Thurn’s Specialty Meatson Instagram

Spotlight: Thurn’s Specialty Meats

A throwback butcher shop in Columbus, Ohio

Thurn’s only takes cash and checks. The butcher shop is only open three days a week. The other four days, they’re busy making all the meats: garlic bologna, braunschweiger, bockwust, hot dogs, head cheese, and cottage ham, plus more recent additions to their repertoire including snack sticks, smoked chicken wings, and candied bacon.

About eighty percent of the customers are regulars, says fourth-generation proprietor Albert Thurn, whose great-grandfather, Alois, started selling meats door-to-door—from a picnic basket—in 1886.

Thurn knows nearly all of them by name. He knows their orders. If they forget their checkbooks, he lets them pay later. “We have a very loyal, longtime customer base,” he says. “They really seem to appreciate what we’re doing, and they are very honest. They write the nicest notes when they do send a check.” Some are no doubt the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of customers who ordered from Alois and his grandsons Robert, Paul, and Leo at the family’s facilities on Greenlawn Avenue in Columbus’s Germantown.

Spotlight: Thurn’s Specialty Meats - Quote

Thurn knows nearly all of them by name. He knows their orders. If they forget their checkbooks, he lets them pay later.

Thirty-some years ago, the family started processing game meat for hunters, after another local butcher shop closed. Thurn estimates that he breaks down about 600 deer each hunting season, between late September and early February—while he’s also smoking turkeys and hams for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s tiresome work. He’s still turning out venison summer sausage in March. But that commitment to the community’s needs is what makes Thurn’s an institution in Columbus.

“We have so many customers that say, Thanks for being here,” the butcher says. “That has so much meaning to me. I’m holding on for dear life, but I’ll be here as long as my health holds out.” He has no interest in expanding or modernizing. Wholesale would be a hassle. His son isn’t interested in taking over, he says, so there is no succession plan. For now, the 135-year-old business relies on the sixty-five-year old Albert Thurn.


Thanks for checking us out!

We are now publishing on Substack—delivering new stories directly to your inbox.

Click here to subscribe to Midwesterner!