Standing on Market Street and watching cattle being driven to the butcher shop would not have been an usual sight in 1875 in Elizabethtown. Driving their cattle to town was the only way Joseph and John Groff had to supply their newly purchased butcher shop with fresh beef from their farm north of town.
Keeping their beef cold was another problem which needed to be solved. Since there was a pond on the farm, every winter Joseph and John cut the ice in blocks, brought it to town, and packed it in sawdust in the ice house behind the butcher shop.
By the time Joseph’s sons, Frank and Wilfred, took over the business operations were more efficient. They were able to purchase ice from an ice man to put in their cooler. However, they still drove their cattle to town and continued to use horse and wagons equipped to go from house to house selling beef and pork to the housewives of Elizabethtown. Soon the horse and wagons were traded for a truck to pedal their goods, and an electric saw and slicer were purchased.
Groff’s Meats started to grow after World War II and during the years when it was operated by two of Frank’s children, Joseph and Helen. After the butcher shop was totally demolished by fire, they began a building program, which gave them room to expand their services. After serving retail customers for 112 years in a small store, a new larger building was constructed. They also began to refine and develop recipes for bacon, hams, bologna, ring bologna, pudding, scrapple, etc.
Presently, we are the fourth generation of owners. While we no longer saw ice from a pond for our refrigeration, cut meat by hand, or raise our own beef, we have continued with pride the tradition and reputation for fine meat which has been passed to us. Many of our recipes are those which have been handed down from generation to generation.
Today, each of us has his or her special area which we co-ordinate in our daily operations to please both our retail and wholesale customers. Every day customers visit our retail butcher shop where their meat is custom cut and sliced for them. At the same time, trucks are leaving our plant filled with fresh beef, pork, chicken, and our own specialty products for wholesale customers in York, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Reading, Lebanon, and Sunbury and all points between these cities.
Our own products are one of the most important ingredients of our business along with our cheery smiles and friendly helpers. We produce our own bacon, three flavors of bologna in various shapes and sizes, scrapple, twelve flavors of fresh sausage, four kinds of smoked sausage, along with many lunchmeat and deli products. Of course, we cut and package beef and pork to accommodate the needs of our wholesale customers too.
In the fall we are in high gear, producing our Pennsylvania Dutch mincemeat which we sell not only in Pennsylvania but also in many other states. We at Groff’s are busy peeling apples, roasting beef, measuring spices, and mixing everything to perfection for the coming holidays and for those yummy pies we all love to eat. Meanwhile, hunters are bringing us their venison which we will turn into various products for their exclusive use. Next we start to produce our Christmas hams for the holiday season. New Years follows with our traditional specialties, deli party items for New Year’s Eve parties and the traditional pork and sauerkraut and filled pig stomach for good luck on New Year’s Day.