At age 13, Helio Couto worked as a butcher in Brazil, going to school at night and cutting meat by day. When he and his family moved to the United States in 1966, he milked cows for a living but knew that he eventually wanted to own a meat shop of his own.
Couto got that chance in 2002 when he purchased Sanders Meat Service, which in the past 14 years has grown into a dependable meat shop that offers quality United States Department of Agriculture meats and cuts to the Turlock area.
“I thought to myself, I should try to find something to buy so I can open up a shop,” said Couto.
He and his wife, Angela Couto, own and operate the meat shop and offer a wide variety of custom-cut meats, including beef and pork. In a world of pre-packaged meats that can be found at the grocery store, the Sanders Meat Service offers the public an authentic meat experience.
The shop started with 4 employees, said Couto, but has since grown to employ around 13 workers. Customers can choose what type of meat they want and how thick they would like it cut. Each customer is entered into the shop’s computer database so that the next time they call, Couto can easily see what their usual order is.
“We suggest what meat or thickness they should try sometimes, but it’s always up to what the customer wants,” said Couto.
Sanders Meat Service is known for its delicious linguica and peppersticks, both of which are made in the shop. The linguica is available in two flavors, regular or hot, and the peppersticks come in four: regular, hot teriyaki, teriyaki-hot and jalapeno cheddar. Prices of all meats are subject to change depending on the current market, but the peppersticks tend to be sold for $9 per pound and Couto charges around $5.50 for linguica.
The shop also packages meats for many local farms and dairies and also processes wild game. According to Couto, Sander Meat Service cuts and packages nearly 600 deer every hunting season, which runs from July to December. Couto’s shop also caters weddings and special events, making summer their busiest time of the year.
“We have three weddings in one day coming up,” said Couto. “Plus, we will be processing animals from the local fairs soon also.”
Meats available for purchase at Sanders Meat Service include ground beef, tri-tip, New York steak, rib-eye, sliced bacon, pork loin, spareribs and pig’s feet, just to name a few. The shop is located at 1220 South Avenue in Turlock, where they offer lunch and a variety of other meats available for purchase. For more information on services, catering or sale meats, call 209-634-7525.