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The beefy history of Dan’s Meat & Produce: the last independent meat shop in Denton

The beefy history of Dan’s Meat & Produce: the last independent meat shop in Denton

Daniel Garza and Hatice Salih are the owners of Dan's Meat and Produce. They are located on North Elm Street.

The beefy history of Dan’s Meat & Produce: the last independent meat shop in Denton
March 29
00:10 2018

Whether you’re carnivorous or vegan, meat is a surprisingly hot topic. People tend to either hate it or love it, and each faction seems to wage war on the other for the right to consume.

For individuals who fall in the former category, Dan’s Meat & Produce might be the place Denton residents are sleeping on. As a mom-and-pop shop in the most literal sense, Dan’s is run by husband and wife duo Daniel Garza and Hatice Salih.

“It was all we could afford at the time,” Salih said. “Thirty years ago, we were [once] young, too.”

With the air of a small ghost-town, Dan’s Meat & Produce is hard to miss. The store’s sign is miniature as well, a tiny wooden board, with light lettering that has eroded away with the sunlight.

There are specialty beers in abundance. For example, Abita root beers are only made in the small town of Abita, located just outside of New Orleans, Louisiana. It is known as the prettiest small town in Louisiana, so it is a fascinating surprise to find them in Dan’s meat shop.

Evelyn Gauci, 70, a visitor in town to see her grandson at UNT, was delighted to see these treats. She is a Louisiana native, and she often brings Abita root beers for him.

“He doesn’t have to wait for me to bring them anymore,” Gauci said. “He has them right here now.”

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The produce section at Dan's Meat & Produce also offers items like decor. The shop is located on North Elm Street. Mallory Cammarata

There are votive candles, vintage saucers and cookbooks from past decades lined along the shelves. Some of the shelves are dusty, others are not. It’s an amalgamation of items collected over time, and everything feels heavy with some sort of memory.

But more than specialty beers, there are all kinds of meat cuts and fresh, succulent vegetables in abundance, gleaming behind glass windows and nestled comfortably in temperature-perfected refrigerators. These are the prized possessions.

Opened in 1988, the shop is rolling right through thirty years of business — even with big name competition like Walmart and Target. Salih maintains that debating the two is “like comparing apples to oranges.”

“It’s more specialized, and we cut and grind everything on the premises, not adding colors or preservatives to the meats,” Salih said.

In additon to all of the produce the couple sells, they also have a variety of meats from different sources. None of the meats in the shop are home-grown on the couple’s ranch.

“No, no!” Salih said. “That’s a completely different operation.”

Between running the shop, dealing with customers and working on the ranch, Salih still makes time to name all her own cows.

“They’re good kids,” Salih said.

The refrigerator hums along to the sound of Salih’s voice as she proudly demonstrates some of her favorite cuts of meat and offers up advice on how to check for the best avocados by their country of origin. She has a large produce section of beautiful vegetables as well.

Long-time customer and friend, 41-year-old Dorothy Mayer, had much to say regarding the shop’s goods.

“I hate pimento cheese, but Hatice’s is good,” she said. “Her guacamole is great, and it’s nice to be able to buy two chicken breasts instead of six.”

Mayer has known Salih since 1984 when she worked with Mayer’s mom.

“I remember being sent [to Dan’s Meat & Produce] in high school to pick up meat,” Mayer said. “My mom died in 2008, and I was taking care of my Pop who was born in 1919. It was often easier to run in there than it was to take him to the store.”

Although the shop has a large, loyal customer base, Garza and Salih are looking to retire soon.

“We’re hoping that we can get someone who’s about 30 years younger than we are to see if there is something they can do,” Salih said. “I think that in order to be successful in a business, regardless of how much competition there is, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to be successful. When you get older, such as we have, you have the liberty of being able to pick and choose what you want to do.”

It is evident that the dynamic couple is proud of what they’ve created and have been able to maintain.

“It was his dream,” Salih said.

Featured Image: Daniel Garza and Hatice Salih are the owners of Dan’s Meat & Produce. They are located on North Elm Street. Mallory Cammarata

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Claire Lin

Claire Lin

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1 Comment

  1. Spiro
    Spiro March 31, 22:47

    Dan and Hatice are outstanding, hard-working people! They treat everyone as a friend, and you will get the best meat you’ve ever had at their store. Dan’s Meat Market is a gem.

    Reply to this comment

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