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If you’ve ever driven the roads of Fairfield County or the streets of Lancaster, you’ve no doubt seen one of the red Bay Food Market vans traveling about. It’s a brilliant yet simple piece of marketing, and the vans have become nearly as iconic as the little market on the corner of Maple and Walnut Streets in downtown Lancaster.
Since 1932, Bay Food Market has been serving up quality meats with great service in a locally owned and operated neighborhood grocery. As Lancaster’s oldest independent grocery, the Fairfield County staple has become an icon in Lancaster and around Ohio.
Bay Food Market was recently selected by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to be featured for “Women-Owned Business” month, showcasing a handful of women-owned businesses around Ohio. The grocery is owned by siblings Karen Kraft Crutcher and David Kraft, who received a special commendation presented by Secretary of State’s Regional Liaison Bob Kalish.
The few who don’t already know about the market are now finding out why local patrons and long-time regular out-of-town visitors make the market a regular visit. Known for their wide variety of fresh cut steaks and chops, house made brats and fresh sausage, and ham steaks, bacon, pork belly, and a variety of sausages smoked in-house, they are also well known for their variety of high quality and creative beef patties, some made with a variety of cheeses and even bacon.
And while the patties fly out the doors, beef brisket has become a top seller, something that wasn’t always the case, says co-owner David Kraft. “It wasn’t until people started smoking (brisket) in maybe the mid-2000’s that it was anything special. We actually used to grind it up. But those meat smokers changed the game,” he explained. On a visit to Texas, David said he kept seeing brisket on the menu and offered as a cut in local markets. Once he saw what was happening and the popularity it was gaining, they revamped their strategy for this particular cut in their own market and stopped grinding it. It’s become one of the most popular sellers, showing that a business as old as Bay Food Market is never too old to adapt and evolve.
Custom party trays and grill boxes are a hit with customers and it’s not uncommon to find something new and creative being offered behind the counter. A recent visit saw Apple Brats on the price board, a secret concoction that David said exemplifies the inventiveness of their business. “We’ll try to make anything – whether it’s by request, or just an idea that pops into our heads!”
And Bay Food Market is not just a meat market – you can find everything you need for your pantry, kitchen, cookout, or even your pet. Fresh ham salad and beef barbeque are a regular offering. Fresh produce, baking goods, sauces, spices and seasonings line the shelves, and local favorite Conn’s Potato Chips and Snacks are prominently offered. Sweet treats like Pumpkin Rolls from Margaret’s Heritage Kitchen in Bremen can be found, as well as massive jars of pickles perfect for your cookout and dog treats and dog bones for your furry friend.
However, the meat is what drives business and it all comes from their state inspected meat processing facility – the only fully inspected red meat facility in Fairfield County. This means that an inspector from the Ohio Department of Agriculture is in their facility any time meat is being processed. The inspector is looking for quality and safe food handling practices. The majority of their meat is not prepackaged or frozen, and their practice of only purchasing from farmers that do not use growth hormones and that limit their antibiotic use to an as needed basis assures that no additives or preservatives are added.
For a fantastic deal on filets or ribeye, smoked ham steak or New York strips, Bay Food Market is where you’ll find it. The grocery is located at 301 South Maple Street in Lancaster, and can be contacted at 740.653.9606. For hours, payment options, specials, and answers to frequently asked questions, visit them online at https://www.bayfoodmarket.com/ and find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BayFoodMarket. Pay attention to their frequent contests, as you may be the next Fan of the Week!