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Krafty's Meat Market: A Flavorful Journey to Success

Posted by Nicole Evans on Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Discover how Nathan Kraft turned his grocery store roots into a flavorful venture at Krafty's Meat Market.

In the heart of the Iowa Great Lakes region, nestled along Highway 86, stands a testament to passion, hard work and the artistry of meat. Nathan Kraft is the driving force behind Krafty's Meat Market, a new local gem renowned for its savory cuts and mouth-watering creations.

Nathan's journey into the world of meat began at the tender age of 14, when he started working at the County Market grocery store in Worthington, Minnesota.

"My dad worked at County Market, which is where I got a job bagging groceries," Nathan reminisced, tracing the roots of his journey. "Even though I was working as a cashier, I was always drawn to the meat department."

His fascination led him to explore the intricacies of the trade. After the County Market closed, he continued his budding grocery store career with another major chain. Nathan's relentless work ethic caught the eye of his managers, propelling him into the place he wanted to be — the meat department.

"I couldn't even touch a knife when I started at 17," he said. "But I was determined to learn, starting as a cleanup boy and gradually working my way up."

But Nathan's aspirations didn't stop there. His thirst for new challenges led him to take a position working at a national meat processing company, where he spent five years immersed in every aspect of the industry, from the cut floor to the casings department.

"I'm not a factory worker. I thrive on interaction and problem-solving. That's why I decided I wanted to continue my career in a more public-facing role."

The Artistry of Meat

Nathan opened Krafty's Meat Market in April 2021 with a repertoire of 55 bratwurst flavors and innovative creations like the famed "boji canoes." From fiesta fajita to gummy bear brats, each creation is a testament to his creativity and dedication. And the customers’ favorite flavor? Everybody loves bacon and cheddar. Nathan can go through a 50-pound batch in one weekend.

"Meat is different; there is an art to it," Nathan said. "To make things tasty and exciting for families — that's the fun part."

In addition to creating products that his customers crave, Nathan heeded the advice of a good friend who worked in the meat industry and also learned how to make bread.

"I found a Subway oven down in Bettendorf. I had never baked bread in my life, but I took the leap."

With guidance from the bakery manager at Gregory's Foods in Eagan, Minnesota, Nathan learned how to make hamburger and brat buns. "It's nuts how many buns we sell over the Fourth of July," Nathan remarked. "We went through 1,440 hamburger buns in one weekend alone!"

And it’s not just meat and bread you’ll find when you stop by Krafty’s Meat Market. Forgot ketchup or mustard? Nathan has you covered. With condiments and other food items like stuffed mushrooms and loaded potato skins available in the summer, Nathan's commitment to being a one-stop shop is evident.

Partnering With Northwest Bank

When Nathan needed financial support to bring his vision for opening Krafty’s Meat Market to life, Nicole Evans, bank president in Arnolds Park and the rest of Northwest Bank commercial banking team were there, providing the resources and guidance he needed.

After scouting a couple of possible building locations for his storefront, Nathan and his wife worked together to write a solid business plan. “We did our due diligence of mapping out projections and visiting other meat markets in the area in order to conduct a market analysis,” Nathan explained. “I knew my business plan would work. Northwest Bank took a leap of faith with me, and in November of 2020 we started construction on the building.”

From a small business real estate construction loan to wealth management, the partnership with Nicole and Northwest Bank has been integral to Nathan’s success. Nathan also takes advantage of the bank’s online banking app so he can manage the daily financial needs of the business any time of day. And with multiple bank locations nearby, it’s easy for Nathan and his team to make deposits and keep up with daily banking transactions. Something that is critical for maintaining a positive cash flow.

A Growing Appetite

As Krafty's Meat Market continues to flourish, Nathan faces a new challenge: expansion.

"We've added so much to the store that we're bursting at the seams," he admitted. "But it's a good problem to have."

Even while planning ahead to accommodate the growing demand, Nathan remains grounded in his commitment to quality, authenticity and community. From shipping products across the country to supporting local events and charities, Krafty's does more than an ordinary meat market — it's a cornerstone of the community, a testament to one man's passion, and the embodiment of the dedication he has to providing his customers with high-quality products that taste good.

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