History

There are many roads that lead to Boerne, and we hope if you come to visit you’ll take one of the smaller ones that take you through the heart of the Hill Country. The views are spectacular – sweeping green meadows and hills covered with cedar, live oak and mesquite – all carved up by white limestone creek beds and miles of fenceposts that mark off the hundreds of ranches in the hills. It harkens back to a day when people took their time traveling, stopped to set a spell and visit, and made delicious food from nature’s bounty all around them. The seat of Kendall County, Boerne was founded by German immigrants looking for opportunities in this wild new land that, with its lush green hills and abundant game, probably reminded them of home. They brought their old world methods of smoking and curing meats to the game they harvested and the livestock they raised in the Hill Country. The result has been a tradition of delicious smoked meats and sausages that is carried on today at Klein Smokehaus.

Our story began on July 4, 1950, when the Waldeck Family purchased the building at 342 North Main Street and opened a family grocery store. Gavin Waldeck and his sister Donna went to school right across the street. Donna, who was about six years old at the time, says, “Every day, as soon as school let out, we’d come across the street and get to work.”

It wasn’t easy running a grocery store, and everyone in the family had to pitch in. Donna remembers her father getting up in the wee hours of the morning and making his rounds to farms and markets to gather fresh eggs, milk, and produce to offer his customers the finest local ingredients. The butcher’s counter offered fresh beef and pork grown and harvested from neighboring farms, so you couldn’t ask for fresher, higher quality meat. Since they were already butchering domestic meats, it only made sense for hunters in the area to bring their deer to the store for processing, and this became one of the core elements of the business that stays strong today.

By 1976 the family-owned grocery store was going the way of many family farms. It was tough to compete with the big chains, so the Waldecks did what all good pioneers have always done –adapted and changed. They downsized the grocery business and decided to focus on the one area they knew they could do better than the bigger stores – top notch meats and sausages – and the Farmers Meat Market was born.

Having provided their neighbors with their food needs for 26 years on Main Street, the Waldecks knew most everyone in town. The meat market was just part of the neighborhood, and it was one of those places where you knew you could stop in and find friends shooting the breeze. As Gavin puts it, “When we were making sausage, we were never short on help!” During deer season, hunters would bring their harvests in, crack a cold brewski, and tell tall tales while hanging sausage rings or tending the firebox in the smokehouse. Today there are too many hunters coming in to have them all hanging out in the kitchen, but our expert crew treats every hunter’s harvest with the same care and craftsmanship you’d have found in the old days.

That sense of community remains today, and it’s probably how the market has managed to survive and thrive for so many years. While Donna left the family business to teach in the Kendall County school district and raise her own family, Gavin has been the man behind the counter, feeding a loyal (and growing!) base of barbecue fans. If you stand on the front porch of the market with him for five minutes, every other car is sure to honk and wave. All of the painters, plumbers, builders and farmers working in the area flock to the meat market at lunchtime, where they mingle with the tourists and the many friendly folks that have made Boerne their country home.

Barret Klein, a Hill Country native who grew up on a family farm in Stonewall, just east of Fredericksburg, purchased the Farmer’s Meat Market in 2006 and has used his expertise and experience to fine tune the business. Barret graduated from Texas A&M with an Animal Science degree in 1980 and continued his education at Colorado State University working on a Master’s in Meat Science. That is where he met his wife Claire, who along with his sons Landon and Clayton help in the family business. Barret’s work experience before taking on his own business were with some great companies including: IBP, Texas Meat Purveyors and for 15 years, Wright Brand Foods in Vernon, Texas. Barret combines this experience with his German heritage of growing up in the Texas Hill Country to produce smoked meats that even his Oma and Opa would appreciate. With its sister company, Hudson Meats in Austin, Klein Smokehaus is now bringing its signature smoked meats and sausages to more and more meat fans every day.

Despite the San Antonio sprawl that inches daily toward Boerne, the little store on Main Street remains an anchor to a simpler time. The outstanding smoked meats and sausages are made in small batches with fresh products and aromatic smoke from native oak hardwoods. Beautiful steaks and chops are hand-cut and sold fresh, and folks cover a fair piece of ground to stop in for the award winning barbecue. And if you consider yourself a bacon connoisseur, you owe it to yourself to try our thick, juicy oak smoked bacon. Our shelves are stocked with pickled vegetables and relishes, salsas, marinades and rubs to perfectly season and complement our tasty meat selections. We’ve been here on Main Street for over six decades, so stop on in, swap a story or two, and enjoy the taste of Hill Country tradition!