Stop & Shop meat managers open their own butcher shop in Milford

MILFORD – A lot of people have been popping into the new shop at 222 Elm St. to offer good wishes to Tex and Dave as the two men turn a former bakery into a shiny new butcher shop.

David McLeod and Sterling “Tex” Trumphour call the shop “Two Happy Butchers,” and they’ll open it any day now.

The name fits. The two men smile a lot, but they weren’t smiling a few months ago when they were among more than 600 Stop & Shop employees who lost their jobs when the supermarket chain closed all its New Hampshire stores.

Both were meat managers for Stop & Shop for more than a decade, and before that, they managed meat departments at various restaurants and supermarkets, including Dean & DeLuca and Wild Harvest.

At Stop & Shop, they worked at different supermarkets; McLeod was in Milford and Trumphour in Bedford, and a decade ago when the supermarkets opened, they set up for grand openings and trained the other employees.

Over the years, the two men built a relationship through frequent phone conferences, so when Stop & Shop closed, they seized the opportunity to open their own shop.

Together they spent a month driving around, looking for the right spot.

Walking on the Milford Oval one day, they were impressed by the people who recognized them from their Stop & Shop days and decided to settle here.

The town of Milford “welcomed us with open arms,” Trumphour said, and officials helped walk them through the process of applying for permits and licenses.

“Everyone is so excited,” he said.

They have renovated the space themselves, all except for the plumbing and electricity, and painted the walls a crisp red and white.

And their aim is to give custom service to everyone, from cost-conscious families to connoisseurs looking for 1855 Black Angus beef or custom-marinated steak tips and kabobs.

“If a customer says can you make something like my mother used to make,” McLeod said, “as long as we have a recipe,” they will try.

“We are very good at what we do,” he said. “We have both been in the business our whole lives,” and all the training invested by their various employers over the years will now be used to benefit their customers.

“Our goal is to bring back the old-style shop where the product gets wrapped in white paper by butchers who know their customers on a first-name basis.”

It’s obvious that food safety and cleanliness are high priorities here. Even though the shop is air conditioned, its cutting room is refrigerated.

There is also a state-of-the-art marinade machine that reduces eight hours of marinading time down to 30 minutes.

Along with steaks, chops, roasts and chickens, Two Happy Butchers will sell home-made sausages, organic meats, all-natural chicken, frozen Kosher products and Boar’s Head brand deli meat, and heat-and-eat products, such as homemade stuffed chicken breasts and beef Florentine.

For adventurous cooks, there will be locally raised rabbits and exotic meats, including antelope and bison.

“If a customer says can you get me this … somewhere, somehow” the shop will get it, Trumphour said.

Two Happy Butchers will be open from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, call 554-1339.