By Zoe Seiler, contributor
Tucker, GA – Andrea Woolf loves to cook and create new recipes. She didn’t set out to run a business, but she was asked to help out with someone else’s idea and began to help revamp Tucker Meat Market. She bought the business in 2014 and continued to improve from there.
“I’m a self-trained chef. I cook from the heart I guess you can say,” Woolf said.
“Cooking is an art form. Everybody can cook. They can follow recipes. I’m not one to follow recipes. Each batch is not the same. It tastes the same, but it’s never the same measurements,” she added.
She is continuously bringing in higher quality cuts of meat and doesn’t lower her standards even when the sales don’t support it, Woolf said.
“Like the previous owners, this place was like a crappy, crappy, crappy hole in the wall, and they sold lower grades than me and questionable quality and freshness. I just started off with higher quality meats. I’ve had some fumbles in the learning process, but I just kept at it even though the clientele wasn’t here, I just kept at it and kept at it until basically word of mouth and our quality spoke for itself,” Woolf said.
Tucker Meat Market is a full scale butcher and meat market that also has a deli with specialty foods, mainly burgers and wings.
“When [customers] walk in it still has a little old country style look to it. So they come in and they can pick from any of the fresh cut meats, from high-end steaks to everyday pork chops, chicken, ground beef, stuff like that. So everything you’ll find at the supermarket but [a] higher quality, and cut daily in house,” Woolf said.
One of Woolf’s most popular burgers, the Mammoth burger, has won many awards including Atlanta Food Wars and Taste of Tucker. That burger was also the second highest rated burger at the World Food Championship in 2018.
“One of the main ones that wins all the awards, I take to all my competitions is called our Mammoth and that has a bacon burger blend patty and it has cheese, grilled onions, grilled jalapenos, mayo, barbecue sauce and our house smoked brisket on top of it,” Woolf said.
The burgers and other food are made fresh every day. If a customer orders a burger, Woolf gets the meat from the meat counter, makes it into a patty and cooks it right away.
“We have multiple specialty burgers,” Woolf said. “So we have a lamb burger, we have a turkey burger. At the beginning of the year we’re coming out with our version of a gyro made with real whole smoked lamb. We do fresh wings. We have old school fried bologna sandwich, patty melts.”
The deli also includes rotating menu items throughout the winter like Brunswick stew, chicken and dumplings, and chili that aren’t on the menu regularly. Woolf added that customers never know what she’ll be offering.
“I’m always coming up with new ideas and like I said, I’m doing this from scratch. I’m not an experienced butcher that came from somewhere else, so I’m constantly learning new things like trying to come up with our own. I try not to carry outside products like sausages and stuff,” Woolf said. “So I don’t have a lot of variety and stuff like that but as I learn my recipes, we’re adding stuff on.”
Tucker Meat Market is mostly run as a one-woman show but Woolf’s family and friends help her out, and customers occasionally help out, too. It’s a community affair.
“Right now it’s just me, and I’m lucky enough to have a couple of family members that have been helping me as business increased but I have a butcher that’s doing an internship and then he’ll be hired on next year, as in payroll. Other than that it’s just friends and family that help me out,” Woolf said.
Over Thanksgiving, Woolf and a few long time customers served dinner to two local fire departments in multiple shifts.
“They had full Thanksgiving meals. Each shift had their own whole turkey and all their sides,” she said. “We put it out there for the community to donate desserts and they donated desserts for it since that’s not our wheelhouse.”
Many businesses have struggled to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic but Woolf has not had many challenges due to COVID-19. She said that people have discovered Tucker Meat Market as grocery stores constantly ran out of meat and she never did.
However, Woolf has implemented new COVID-19 safety protocols.
“We are not allowing any eat in. We have caution tape [that’s] six feet away from the counters and then we have a sign up outside that no more than 10 people [are allowed] in the building at a time. We don’t have a sign that says a mask is required, but it’s highly recommended and we wear masks,” Woolf said.
Tucker Meat Market is located at 2187 Brockett Road and is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The store is closed on Sunday and Monday.