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Top-shelf service: A beefy Q&A with Chris Sanders of Shopper’s Corner famous meat department

Presented by Shopper's Corner
shopper's corner team butcher shot
Learn all about Shopper’s Corner’s famous meat counter, where their expert team of butchers have been proudly serving some of the best cuts in the County for decades.
(Shopper’s Corner)

For 85 years, Shopper’s Corner has been an icon of Santa Cruz family-owned businesses. This family-run business offers a local smorgasbord of products, ranging from organic produce to an expansive wine selection. The friendliest part of Shopper’s Corner? Their meat counter.

Their expert team of 15 butchers has been proudly serving some of the best cuts in the County for decades. Best known for doing it the old-fashioned way, processing whole lambs and sides of beef on location.

This process of “breaking beef” onsite is not as popular as it once was, helping earn Shopper’s Corner the title of best butcher shop in Santa Cruz County for the last five years.

Lookout’s Christian Abraham spoke with Shopper’s Corner’s Meat Department Manager, Chris Sanders, to gain a bit more insight into this legendary team of butchers.

Lookout: So Chris, what types of services does the meat counter at Shopper’s Corner offer to customers?

Sanders: Our customers can also call in for special orders, which we do 7 days a week. We have a wide range of meats, including beef, chicken, lamb, pork, fish and sausages, as well as twenty different marinades. We also offer prepared foods such as our cordon bleu or chicken fajitas, which are pre-seasoned and ready to cook for a convenient meal. We are always happy to help with recipes or cooking suggestions.

shopper's corner beef selection
(Chris Sanders / Shopper’s Corner)

Lookout: Is there a best-selling item or customer favorite at the meat counter?

Sanders: For the last twenty years, our best-seller has been our teriyaki skirt steak. But recently, our Bloody Mary skirt steak and tri-tip has become more popular.

Lookout: What does the division of labor look like for the butcher team? Are certain individuals in charge of certain roles?

Sanders: It’s largely a team effort. We have two trained professionals who are in charge of breaking down all the beef that comes in. And, I’d say we have 5 or 6 counter cutters. So once the beef gets broken down and thrown on the block, they’ll cut that meat and prepare it to go in our counter. Every day, we have one guy dedicated to the chicken section, and another working on our sausages, as well as our fish and marinade sections. We rotate those positions pretty frequently.

“Chris has well over a decade of experience and fully understands what it is we do that makes our meat department special. He is absolutely the best man for the job!”

— Andre Beauregard, third-generation owner of Shopper’s Corner

Lookout: What can you tell me about your role at Shopper’s Corner?

Sanders: Well, I’ve been with Shopper’s Corner for about twenty years now and recently have been promoted to Meat Department Manager. I worked with Paul Bagnasco was our previous Meat Department Manager for about 17 years until his retirement two years ago. It’s been a great all around experience and I’m excited about the future and to learn new things.

shopper's corner butcher department
(Chris Sanders / Shopper’s Corner)

Lookout: How would you say that the butchers at Shopper’s Corner distinguish themselves from other butchers at other grocery stores?

Sanders: Attention to detail and not cutting corners. We pride ourselves on doing this job the very best we can. It’s not just a job to get done but a craft that we are all working to perfect. Also I think what sets us apart is our positive vibe. We enjoy what we do and have fun doing it. A lot of us have been at Shopper’s Corner for several years, so we know these customers on a first-name basis and we look forward to seeing them. Customers know they aren’t just a number to us.

Lookout: How has the butcher department at Shopper’s Corner evolved since the store’s beginning in 1937?

shopper's corner butcher shot 1
Chris Sanders has been with Shopper’s Corner meat department for the last 20 years.
(Shopper’s Corner)

Sanders: We’ve had to learn to grow and cater to our customer’s growing desires. That means offering new products, like our new pork belly which we just started carrying. Like most businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted us, resulting in our beef prices spiking up. We’ve also tested different methods such such as comparing grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Overall, we try to evolve with our customers to serve all of their needs.

Lookout: What are some of Shopper’s Corners goals or dreams for the future of their butcher department and/or store as a whole?

Sanders: I’d love to see us offer more prepared foods, more marinated meats, and just to have a more diverse variety of selections for our meat counter overall. We’d really like to adapt to what the customers are putting on their dinner table. It’s always nice to surprise them with something they wouldn’t normally think of having, and then expanding their food knowledge through that.

“Our goal is to honor all the efforts and sacrifices that everyone has made to get us where we are today. We genuinely want to do our best for our customers. We have set the bar high as far as quality and customer service goes and we intend to keep it there.”

— Andre Beauregard, third-generation owner of Shopper’s Corner