Behind The Counter: Stan McGowan

Photography by Lori Sax By Bianca Benedi November 30, 2012

Stan McGowan, owner

The Butcher’s Block

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Stan McGowan (LORI SAX)

How did you get into the business?

My dad had a little country store in a small town, about 1,000 people. I had eight brothers and sisters, and we lived in the back of the store. One day a guy came in and said, “Why don’t you start helping your dad cut meat?”

When did you open The Butcher’s Block?

I started in 1968 in Sarasota and had four stores. They were all good but I hadn’t had a vacation in about three-and-a-half, four years. It was hard to get meat cutters. None of the young fellows want to learn the trade anymore. So 20 years ago I sold my third store and now this is the only one left. I’m 71 and ready to retire.

What do you offer that the big supermarket chains just can’t?

Expert service. We have 55 years of experience and we cut to order. It’s not something you have to take out of a package.

You branched out into wine. What percentage of your revenues is that now?

Wine is about 40 percent of the business. I have wines that range from $6.99 to $3,000 a bottle. I have over 1,500 wines, and you will not find them in a supermarket.

Is your location on 17th Street, away from Sarasota’s poshest neighborhoods, a negative?

No! I’m just about a mile from the downtown area. We have people come from Longboat Key. If you want a gourmet shop, you come to my shop.

What’s been your most unique “behind the counter” request?

A customer came in and wanted wild caribou. It’s hard to get, but I got it for him.

What’s the most popular order?

Steaks. Prime ribs, fillets, porterhouse.

How have tastes changed since you opened?

The younger generation wants something easier. Throw it on a grill, eat it, you’re done. They don’t want leftovers.

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