Milton residents will have no need to leave town limits for fresh cuts of steak, juicy pork chops or grass-fed ground beef when Hickman's Meat Market opens downtown next year.
Bryan Hickman and his sister, Jenn Tatem, have been running Hickman's Meat Market on Route 1 Rehoboth Beach for about five years, after taking over the 15-year-old business for their father. They said opening a second storefront in up-and-coming Milton was an opportunity they couldn't pass up.
“I love the small town feel of Milton,” said Hickman, who has been living in Cannery Village for about three years. “We saw a good spot for a butcher shop, where you can go and get your pound of ground beef for dinner.”
The Milton store, dubbed The Butcher's Block by Hickman's, is expected to open in January in the former location of Vintage Pasta on Union Street in a building that once held a sausage and scrapple factory.
“People have said it's so cool to see a meat grinder going back in there because they remember when it was the scrapple plant,” said Hickman, a fifth-generation butcher. “It's kinda neat taking it back a little bit.”
Having a storefront in Milton also means loyal customers don't have to give up their quality Hickman's meats during the summer because they don't feel like fighting beach traffic.
“We have a lot of customers out that way, in the Milford, Milton area, and we don't see them in the summer,” Hickman said. “They'll get a big order Memorial Day and say, 'We'll see you after Labor Day.”
The Butcher's Block by Hickman's will be a smaller version of the Rehoboth market, with more all-natural, grass-fed options as well as more affordable options.
“There's a need in this area to have good, quality, affordable meats for more of an everyday type of budget,” Tatem said.
“We know not everybody can afford a $40 per pound filet,” Hickman said. “We want to give a couple more options but still stick with the high-quality products.”
Tatem said hours of the new Milton market will depend on demand, but she expects to be open Thursday through Saturday when the shop first opens. But they still need to get all necessary permitting – including approval from Milton Historical Preservation Commission and state agencies – before finalizing details and opening the doors.
“But it's moving quickly,” Hickman said. “Not a whole lot needs to be done with the building itself.”
Opening a second location also means Hickman's will be looking for new employees. Hickman and Tatem said they'll need a couple new staff members to help their seven current employees keep the business running smoothly.
“I'm super, super excited about the move,” Tatem said. “To be able to offer to our customers that can't get down here with the traffic is great, but it's also about offering a good product for people who just don't come down this way. In a lot of those small towns, people like to stay close to home, and I think we'll not only be able to accommodate some of our already existing customers, but definitely get some new ones as well.”