In a world of big box stores, a shrinking economy and proliferating fast-food restaurants, one business is being hailed as Brentwood's best, largely for bucking the trends.
Brentwood Fine Meats, which is owned by Bill Harris and Greg Karkas, has been named the Business of the Year by the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce, not just for what they do, but how and when they've done it.
They've expanded during tight times, they continue to give to the community, and the quality of their product and their customer service are among the reasons the somewhat out-of-the-way company is thriving, said Chamber CEO Harry York. It's kind of a throw-back, mom-and-pop business, and nobody is even aware of how much they do for the community.
We were very excited to be chosen, Harris said. There are a lot of really good businesses out there, and for us to be picked is an honor.
While many local companies support various causes and events, Brentwood Fine Meats manages to go them one better. They provide donations and discounts for things such as the annual Relay for Life (benefiting the American Cancer Society) and the Brentwood Barbecue King Cook-off on Super Bowl Sunday (benefiting the Brentwood Police Activities League and East Contra Costa Historical Society), and the mere fact that Brentwood Fine Meats is providing the victuals is almost certain to bolster attendance at any event. Not content to simply provide sandwiches for groups like the Liberty Athletic Boosters or meat for the Delta Community Services Chili Cook-off, Harris and Karkas also pitch in with some elbow grease: Harris sits on the PAL Board and Karkas is an active member of the Brentwood Rotary Club.
The two met some 15 years ago when both worked in the printing industry. After discovering their mutual affinity for shopping for and preparing meat, they opened their store on Walnut Boulevard at Oak Street it sits back off the road a bit, behind Dukellis Real Estate six years ago. In 2008, they expanded to the space next door, providing dine-in space for customers to enjoy cold and hot sandwiches, salads and hot dogs, and hamburgers with made-to-order patties of freshly ground beef.
Shayn Cutino (whose business Anja Wellness, was also nominated as a Business of the Year) said she was one of those who nominated Brentwood Fine Meats, not just because of the effort that goes into Harris and Karkas' community involvement, but also for what doesn't go into their food.
They use free-range and hormone-free meats, and that's key to me, she said, adding that the giving nature the two display is also one of the reasons for their success.
They give from the heart, she said. It's not to sell more, but that's a benefit when you give for the right reasons. Their hearts are truly in the right place.
York said that the Brentwood Fine Meats model of premium customer service, quality products and community involvement serves as a recipe for success, not just for Karkas and Harris, but any business looking to compete in today's marketplace. Harris agrees.
It's definitely something we set out to do, he said. (Brentwood) is a tight-knit community. Most businesses should go out of their way to contribute to it. It's enjoyment for us, good for business and good for the community.
In addition to Anja Wellness, other companies nominated for Business of the Year included MedSolutions, Cabanas in the Garden, Grazie! An Italian Cafe, Generations Photography and The Monthly Grapevine.
The Business of the Year award will be presented to Brentwood Fine Meats at the Chamber's annual Officer Installation Dinner on Jan. 24th.
The event, which will also feature a Casino Night, will be held at Shadow Lakes Golf Club. Tickets (pre-sale only) can be purchased by calling the chamber at 925-634-3344 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Correspondent Michelle Nguyen contributed to this story.