Chuck Frommer has “story after story,” he says, about what he bills as the oldest meat market in Las Vegas.
Almost 50 years ago, his grandfather, John Mull, dotted an open map of land near Gowan Road and Decatur Boulevard with a slaughterhouse and meat store.
He shipped prized beef in from Utah. Sometimes, the animals were herded to the front door of 3730 Thom Blvd. — and sometimes more than once.
“He had stories of chasing beef in the middle of town,” Frommer said. “It was a slaughterhouse, but sometimes beef got out.”
John Mull’s Meats remains on the same parcel of land, now hugged by development. Instead of steering future product back to the stockyards, staff members often have to wave lost and wannabe customers into the tucked-away lot, Frommer said.
“They’re lost, or they stumble upon us,” he said, “or we have people who have been coming here for 40 years.”
Family-owned since 1954, Frommer is the fourth owner and third generation manning the store.
“I was actually born next door,” he said, hitching a thumb at the ranch-style house due north.
Each owner has made his mark in John Mull’s Meats’ history.
Patriarch John Mull was raised in a Dutch-Amish portion of Pennsylvania. A carpenter by trade, Mull moved to Southern Nevada in 1938 to work on Hoover Dam, Frommer said.
“Instead of working on the dam, he would work on the casinos (built) to satisfy the construction patrons,” he said.
He started working in meat processing in the 1940s and first applied for his own business license in 1954. Mull owned land in Utah, where he would raise beef and sell it in his Las Vegas shop.
Alongside choice cuts of beef were “old school” products such as blood sausage and scrapple, a mush of pork and cornmeal served with syrup, common in Pennsylvania, Frommer said.
In 1957, Frommer’s father, Don Frommer, took over the business. He kept his father-in-law’s business model until 1964, when Bill Mull took over.
“My uncle was more a producer,” Frommer said. “He wanted to get it in and out.”
Bill Mull introduced a wider range of meats to be slaughtered, processed and sold. He also rendered beef bones and tallow and sold the grind to buyers such as cosmetics companies.
Chuck Frommer took over in 1981. Since, Frommer has ushered in his own era of business.
Animals are no longer slaughtered on property. Frommer accepts and processes wild game from permit-holding hunters, though.
John Mull’s Meats’ product is shipped in from stockyards and farms around the country.
Frommer tumbles the meat in his own blend of seasonings. He seeks particular varieties of peppers and roasts them for a day before grinding them up to a fine powder with salts, sugars and other ingredients.
“We break them down and put them back together,” Frommer said. “Everyone has a gift, and I guess that’s my gift.”
The meats then take a 16-hour slow cook. Last Thanksgiving, 2,000 turkeys were slow-roasted in their ovens, Frommer said.
Frommer also introduced the Road Kill Grill, the name of John Mull’s Meats’ catering wing, to the business. For decades, the company was providing meat to area caterers and remaining on the losing end of the deal, he said.
“We were doing all the work, and they were making the bigger margins,” he said. “I never wanted to be a chef, by any means.”
Frommer has a staff of about seven. The crew cooks and processes barbecues and all the fixings for events involving as many as 4,500 people.
The former slaughter room is now where cured meats and the company’s signature hot sticks hang, awaiting purchase.
He has moved the business into the computer age and is working to establish a website.
Frommer said he hopes to introduce a take-out option to the business as well.
Although he has made a lot of changes in the 31 years as owner, Frommer has kept some things intact. The building has remained the same hue of yellow. There isn’t a meat counter, and customers often think they entered the back door of operations, Frommer said.
“It’s impossible for us to have rude servers,” he said. “We want to be different.”
Patrons often get to see the whole cut of meat before their section is sold, Frommer said.
He competes with big grocers and bargain-basement sellers, but Frommer believes his product keeps customers.
“Fresh can intimidate people,” he said. “But there is still a group out there that wants quality, and they come back.”
Frommer suspects the business will remain in the family.
“My daughter already says things like, ‘When I own it ’ ” he said.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is closed Sunday.
For more information, call 645-1200.
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Maggie Lillis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 477-3839.