Inside a narrow Main Street storefront is a deli case whose small white signs identifying various sausages make for a scene out of a Berlin butcher’s shop.
“Karl Ehmer never left Smithtown, we just changed the name,” said owner and Smithtown native Ben Schor.
Main Street Meats, formerly Karl Ehmer and located across the street from its present home on Main Street’s south side, has been bringing authentic German meats and other imports to Smithtown for five decades, Schor said. He started at the deli counter in 1991 and bought the place seven years later, dreaming of a better space to run his expanding business.
It “just kind of happened” eighteen months ago, he said, when he acquired the property and built a new store. The move is proving to be worth the investment. Schor said his store is seeing about 200 customers each day, up from an estimated 50 at the previous location. He said that number is growing.
“All people have to do is try something and they’re regulars,” said Schor, adding that people come from as far as Riverhead for his Polish kielbasas. Schor, who lives in St. James with his wife, Laura, said the move has made his establishment more prominent in its own community as well.
“We have customers that never knew it was there,” Schor said of the old store, which he said suffered from a lack of parking on the side of a street which nobody wants to cross due to the danger.
Standing in the new store, you might feel like you're in any other deli until you take a closer look at the products. Imported teas, coffee and chocolates bear names in German, Dutch and Belgian. Specialty brands like Schaller & Weber, Karl Ehmer and Forest Pork Store line the refrigerated shelves. Cured meats include salami and proscuitto done in the German tradition, as well as a variety of smoked sausages. Day-aged prime beef and all-natural poultry are also offered.
Schor always has a chef on duty to prepare classic European dishes like Hungarian goulash and sauerbraten, or to make their in-house honey-baked spiral hams. Schor will also be offering farm-fresh turkeys for Thanksgiving.
With the increase in floor space came several other upgrades: Schor’s staff swelled from three to eight, he replaced all his slicers and the rest of his equipment, and he expanded his services. The store is now open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., a full-service butcher, deli and caterer. Schor’s team even does home barbecues.
“The store is always expanding. We’re always trying new products, taking customer recommendations,” he said. While his wide selection of high-quality European imports is certainly a draw, Schor owes his success to his staff’s attentiveness to their customers.
“When you come in here you get treated right,” he said.
Jim Kelly of Hauppauge said he’s been frequenting the store for more than 25 years and comes twice per week. He said the new store is better in “every aspect,” and complimented the sandwiches and salads in particular.