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Meat Cutting Room
By Lisa Carroll, Staff Writer 
The Meat Cutting Room is a family-owned meat processing plant located in Coquille, Oregon, which also offers  custom made meat products for sale to the public. Owners Jerry and Melody Storts, who were both raised in the area, got started in the meat business over 40 years ago.  “We both started under George Graham and Richard Rose,” he told me, “...two of the best meat cutters that I’ve ever known, and they’d still be good, but they’re long gone past us. We just kept working at it, bought our own plant and run it for years. Then we had a plant at Lee Valley for 14 years when this one became available. So we moved back here and we’ve been doing good. The people love it, and I love the people.”

Melody Storts mixes  wonderfully aromatic spices into some ground meat. The Storts are likable, down-home people who love their work.  (Photo by Lisa Carroll)
Jerry explained the meat processing business to me. “Well, we cater to the farmers real heavy. The kill truck goes up and kills the animals at the farmer's place- cows, hogs, or sheep. Farmers are our main supporters.” After the animal is butchered,  it is brought to the Meat Cutting Room where it is stored and hung in the coolers until it is ready to be processed. “We do an awful lot of wild game, too,” Jerry continued. “The hunters around here are pretty good hunters, let me tell you what! I can’t count how many head a year we do, between all the deer, elk, antelope, and bear.” I actually hadn’t considered bear, but Jerry tells me that bear meat is great to work with, and makes great pepper sticks and sausage. “Their meat is soft like pork, so it accepts the seasonings real easy. We use our own recipes, and we keep the preservatives down in everything we make. We make tons of smoked meats each year and that is our mainstay- hams, bacon, jerky, pepper-stick, summer sausage, and hot dogs."
Jerry and Melody met on the rodeo circuit, and in fact the rodeo still plays a big part in their family life to this day. Their son and son-in-law, Sam Storts and John Houston, run S & J Bucking Bulls, which is well known throughout the rodeo circuit and appreciated locally for the entertaining show they put on at the Coos County Fair each year. Jerry and his wife still participate, along with their daughter, Stacy Houston, and daughter-in-law Jennifer Storts. Even his grandchildren are involved. I spoke with 8 year old granddaughter  Allison Storts, who is already an award winning cowgirl. "I do a lot of junior rodeos," she happily shared, "and I go to Barrel Club.  My mom is a cowgirl and my dad is a cowboy. We have a lot of bucking bulls, and I’m going to start my own herd.” Another granddaughter of Jerry’s is also an avid rodeo fan. I asked Harli Houston, age 4,  if she wanted to be a cowgirl one day. “I’m a cowgirl already!” she exclaimed. “I’ve got two horses. I like going to the rodeo, watching the bulls, and playing in the dirt.”
 Jerry enjoys his work and he feels this is the main reason their custom made products are so popular. “It’s the love of doing it. It’s like a good chef is one who likes to cook. It goes hand in hand. I mix all the spices, and I still enjoy cutting meat at my age. The good Lord has blessed me that I can still do it at 67 years old. A lot of guys can’t.” Either the older I get, the younger old people look, or the meat cutting and rodeo life must keep a person looking spry, because I’d of never guessed Jerry is as old as he says. I told him this and he laughed in reply, “Well, when you came in, I was sitting over there in that chair, and I was telling my Granddaughter Harli it was the King’s Chair. She told me I was too old to be a king, so we’d just have to call it the Old Man’s Chair from now on. Thanks, kid!”
When you walk into the store, the first thing you actually see are beautifully made wood products, such as tables, picture frames, and shelves for sale. These are locally created by Elaine and Butch Bryson of Circle Bar EB Creations. There are also some finely crafted handmade knives offered for sale, too. Barnyard toys are over in a corner for the kids to play with while their parents shop and chat it up with Jerry and Melody. The store is simple and honest, like the people. Plus it smells great, because there really isn’t much that smells better than smoked meat, and the smoker runs 7 days a week. Jerry and Melody gifted me with the best pepper sticks and summer sausage I’ve ever eaten, and I’m looking forward to payday when I can go back and by some meat to stock my freezer with.
The Meat Cutting Room is located at 10120 Highway 42, in Coquille, OR 97423. Stop by for a visit, or call them at (541) 396-1353.
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