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ABQ jerky business expands, aims at wholesale

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Michael Grier, who started out making a little bit of jerky for his family, has turned his hobby into such a successful business that he’s now operating out of a 5,800-square-warehouse.

It’s the third location for Mike’s Jerky, which is planning to expand beyond its own retail shops into the greater world of groceries, convenience stores and other outside outlets.

“We have a lot of loyal customers in New Mexico, especially Albuquerque,” Grier said. “There was such a demand from those people wanting us to do it.”

The business already had two retail outlets and a small kitchen at its Menaul NE location, but it needed to scale up to tackle the wholesale market, Grier said.

The new kitchen and retail store at 4900 Jefferson NE has all new equipment that Grier and his staff of nine have been using to get their jerky just right.

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Brenda Grier jerky at Mike\’s Jerky third location. Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal

After more testing and federal inspections, the business expects to start selling at the new outlets at the first of the year, Grier said.

It’s a far cry from the 350 square feet of space at Grier’s first location, which he shared with a woman who was making and selling peanut brittle.

It was 2009 — “the worst possible time because of the economy” — but Grier had lost his job selling recreational vehicles and decided to take the plunge into the world of jerky.

The business got a boost in 2016 when it was included in the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.” The episode pointed out the unusual nature of New Mexico jerky — usually thin and dry rather than thick and chewy with “lots of sugar” — and mentioned Grier’s most popular product: green chile jerky.

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Carlos Gallegos brushes green chile paste on meat that will be made into jerky. Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal

In the real estate transaction, Mike’s Jerky was represented by Ben Nolte and Thomas Mortensen, Associate Brokers at Allen Sigmon.

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