SHERIDAN — Jeff Morgareidge has been working nonstop.
He’s spent nearly 12 hours a day, seven days a week painting, building, hauling in heavy equipment and everything else he can to get his more than 3,000-square-foot building up to code.
But underneath his Green Bay Packers hat, covered with sawdust, was a grin — a mixture of bliss and relief that he hadn’t felt in months.
He and his wife, Erin, are crossing the finish line on what has been an arduous and frustrating journey. More than nine months after their business was forced out of its location, the Morgareidges and the Sheridan Meat Market have found a new place to call home.
Jeff Morgareidge poured his heart into his butcher shop.
Since he took over the business, Morgareidge said he worked tirelessly to build his brand. A butcher by trade, he bought the Sheridan Meat Market nearly two years ago and started to develop a local customer base.
But in early February, he received an unexpected note in the mail. It was from the owners of the property and it contained a notice to vacate the premises by Feb. 28. They had a little more than four weeks to pack up the business and leave.
“We were never given the opportunity to renew our lease,” Morgareidge said.
The owner of the property at the time was CCA-Sugarland Village Shopping Center, which is a managing member of Kornwasser Shopping Center Properties, LLC. Both companies are based in Los Angeles.
In a written statement sent in March, the property owners said Morgareidge refused to renew his lease, a claim that Morgareidge continues to refute.
So, by March 1, he packed his equipment into a storage unit. Morgareidge was out of a job and out of a business.
“Jeff worked so hard in creating this business, and then it just suddenly was shut down and taken away from him,” his wife said.
“It was kind of overwhelming, we really didn’t know what direction to go,” Morgareidge said.
He and his wife started looking for new locations, but they quickly discovered that it would be a tougher road than originally thought.
According to planning and zoning codes with the city of Sheridan, butcher shops can only be located in industrial districts. Few vacant buildings were available; fewer still were in locations attractive to customers and would work for their business.
“I was calling everywhere, trying to find a new place, but there really wasn’t anything,” Erin Morgareidge said.
They still owned The Sheridan Meat Market and all of the bills with it. Licensing, contracts and other existing balances still had to be paid even if there was no money coming in. To make ends meet, the Morgareidges drained their savings and retirement. Jeff Morgareidge took a job in the meat department at Albertsons.
“We had times where we were not sure if we were ever going to get it open again,” Erin Morgareidge said. “But it would have been a shame not to reopen the store — Jeff is just so good at it.”
By summer, they thought they had found a location to rent. It was far from optimal (it only included a one-year lease) but it was something to at least get the store re-opened.
Right before they signed the papers, the Morgareidges had a stroke of good fortune.
Jeff Morgareidge’s brother was doing construction work for a handful of lots on South Sheridan Avenue that could be utilized for a butcher shop. Through that connection, Morgareidge was introduced to the owner of the property who, coincidently, was a former patron of The Sheridan Meat Market.
“It was just total luck that we found this place,” Morgareidge said.
They struck a deal. And while they had wait a few more months until the building was complete, it was worth the wait, the Morgareidges said.
The new new location is near a high-traffic street. It’s zoned to allow for a butcher shop.
The Morgareidges’ favorite part? It’s nearly 3,600 feet square feet — more than triple the size of The Meat Market’s last location.
“We were planning on expanding and moving out of (their old location) eventually, we just wish we didn’t have that nine-month period where we were totally closed down,” Erin Morgareidge said.
The timeline to re-open is still up in the air, but the hope is to be providing prime rib to locals before Christmas. To get the building up to city and federal codes required to open a butcher shop, additional work on the building will be completed in the coming weeks.
Still, Jeff Morgareidge said it is nicer to move equipment into a new building than having to move everything out.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the community through all of this and that’s been great,” he said.