Carrollton butcher pushes expansion

Published 10:05 pm Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A meat market in Carrollton is looking to sell its products wholesale in a heavily regulated industry under the guidance of a seasoned butcher and his family.

Jeb’s Meat Market and Diner on Carrollton Boulevard has been in business since 2001. Owner Jeb Bonnet works with his wife, Chae, and their daughter, Lisa, offering barbecue, ham, sausage, Korean cuisine and other delicacies.

Jeb smokes, cures and cuts the meat in-house. He has been in this line of work for most of his life, having attended the National School of Meat Cutting in Toledo, Ohio, in 1975.

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His Facebook page, “Jeb the Butcher,” features free videos and pictures with meat-cutting instructions for a growing number of followers.

“There’s an artistic component to it,” he said. “You see what something is supposed to look like before you cut it. This one would be best if you cut it one way, and another will look better if you do something else with it.”

The market’s beef and pork bulgogis received the Virginia’s Finest seal of approval, a trademark that promotes top-quality specialty food products. Jeb’s has six products with the approval to date, including smoked cottage bacon, smoked dinner sausage, cherry smoked ham and country ham.

According to Chae, loving what you do adds to the flavor.

“You have to love your job, and I love my job,” she said. “I’m doing the best I can to get the best flavor. I want to make products that people want.”

That resonates with their customers, many of whom have become regulars.

“I don’t buy meat anywhere else,” said Carrollton resident Keith Joyner. “He’s top of the line.”

“I love it,” said Chesapeake resident Pearl Lennox. “You get these old country flavors. In your Food Lions and Krogers, you don’t find these flavors.”

Jeb has worked to push his business forward by receiving federal inspections and selling to wholesalers. He improved his facility to accommodate changing government regulations over the years.

He said the first products made under inspection for wholesale will be done by the end of August.

“We’ve gone from a little market to our own products with USDA numbering,” he said. “That speaks for itself.”

Navigating these regulations have not been easy for the market.

According to Jeb, state approval is required for products made with restricted ingredients, such as “the big eight:” peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fin fish, shellfish, wheat and soy. His attempts to arrange inspections and work with Isle of Wight economic development authority have been delayed and slow going, he said.

“Here we are in the wild, screaming out to people and saying, ‘Look what we’ve done, look what we’ve accomplished,’” he said. “It seems to have fallen on deaf ears.”

He said he’s able to continue his efforts thanks to his wife’s support and satisfied customers.

“My wife has allowed me to live my passion, and to continue to be successful at it by making the public happy with it will be my biggest fulfillment,” he said.

Visit or call 238-7044 for more information.