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Keeping old-fashioned meat counter going

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Fagundes Meats and Catering owner Frank Teixeira shows some of his seasonings and sauces available in grocery stores and over the old-fashioned meat counter on Jason Street.


POSTED January 16, 2013 1:15 a.m.

Frank Teixeira grew up behind a butcher’s counter.

Every day after school he’d walk down to Fagundes Meats– the business that his stepfather and uncle, Gil and Americo Fagundes, started in the late 70s – and start his daily routine.

He’d clean-up after the more experienced butchers. He’d wrap meat that had already been cut. He’d man the old-fashioned counter and wrap orders ranging from boxes of rib eyes to individual steaks.

But what he was really doing was handling the tasks that would prepare him for taking over the family business – something that he formally did 16-years-ago – so that he could carry on the old-fashioned meat counter tradition to an entirely new generation of Manteca residents.

The Bulletin sat down with Teixeira to find out what goes into getting that perfect porterhouse from the cutting table to your kitchen:

What’s the most popular cut of meat with your customers?

“I’d have to say tri-tip. It’s originally a cut of meat from Santa Maria that originated in the 1970’s, and before that it was something that just got put into hamburger meat. It’s really a West Coast cut of meat – a lot of people back East have never heard of a tri-tip.”

What do you love about being a business owner in Manteca?

“The people. We wouldn’t be here after 34-years if time-after-time, year-after-year they didn’t keep coming back and keep us going. I appreciate every single one of them and I’ve gotten to know a lot of them like friends over the years.”

Are there seasonal cuts of meat? Are things that are more popular during certain times of year?

“Definitely. Christmas is always our busiest time of the year for prime rib and things like that, and then all other BBQ cuts are what we sell a lot of during the summer. Soups and stews during the winter and hamburger year-round. We never stop eating. I think one of the things that people like about what we do is that that we offer a lot of in-house cuts and things like sausages – linguica and Italian sausage and links. They’re popular year-round as well.”

If you’re out at a five-star restaurant, what do you order?

“I’d rather take it home and cook it myself (laughs). I’m a fan of a big ol’ rib eye. I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy – coming from the Azores and humble beginnings that’s really what we had. Lots of meat and potatoes and fish. That’s still my favorite.”

What makes Fagundes different than what people will find in other stores?

“I think that people appreciate that they come here and talk to a butcher and get a special cut or a steak cut to their exact thickness. They can get marinated or they can come in and pick up a slab of ribs that are already cooked – we’re out there barbecuing every weekend. It gives the customer the chance to have what it is that they want.”

You’ve hosted golf tournaments and other fundraisers to benefit Autism Awareness. Why is the cause so near-and-dear to your heart?

“I’ve got twin 5-year-old boys, Cooper and Spencer. Cooper was diagnosed with Autism when he was very young so the cause is very special to me. And it’s not just for Autism but special needs in general – we do things for the schools that he’s involved in to give something back and help bring awareness to the community.”

Certain professions are known for their unique hours – “banker’s hours” for example. Do butchers have to get an early start on the day?

“It’s definitely an early business. We’re in here at 6 a.m. to get an early start with the cutting and the prep time and the marinating and getting ready for any of the functions or catering that we have to do off-site. There are a lot of things that we have to get done – we have eight different BBQ trailers and we’ll go out and cook for people for corporate events and things like that and that takes time to set-up.”

Are you a coffee or orange juice kind of person in the morning?

“Neither. I’m not a big breakfast guy. I like to just get up and get going with what I have to get done.”

Beef is graded differently by the USDA. Do people have an understanding of the quality of the meat that they buy?

“The good thing about what we do is that customers can actually come in and talk to a butcher if they have any questions – we’re the ones that are paid to know the answers to those questions. They can’t always find those answers everywhere they go, and we’re glad to be able to talk with them about whatever it is that they need.”

When you’re not at work what do you like to do for fun?

“I used to golf a lot but since the boys were born I relish in the joy of them and spending time with my wife. And occasionally a poker game with the buds.”

What is something that most people don’t realize about this profession?

“That the meat doesn’t come pre-packaged. Everything that we put out we cut and prepare ourselves in the morning, and that’s not always the case everywhere you go. There is definitely more work in doing that, but there’s also better quality at the same time.”

Is there a cut of meat that’s harder than others to prepare?

“Not really. Not when you’ve been doing it for a while. I love doing ribs – I’m a rib fanatic. That’s why I love the rib feeds that we do every year like the one that’s coming up for Manteca High in March. How can you go wrong when you’re talking about ribs?”

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