The Evans family has been in the meat-cutting business for decades.
“Between the three of us, we have over a hundred years of meat cutting experience,” said Henry Evans, speaking of himself and his parents. The family has owned and operated Ye Ol’ Geezer Meat Shop in Moab since 1999.
Evans’ father retired nine years ago, after working as a butcher for most of his life. Now Evans, his mother, and one other employee keep the shop running from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., five days a week.
In 1994, Evans’ parents started the shop in Soda Springs, ID, where the shop took its name from a local man-made geyser. According to the Soda Springs City website, the feature was created in 1937 during a drilling operation intended to find a hot water source for a swimming pool. Ye Ol’ Geezer Meat Shop was located just next door to the park dedicated to the water feature, and the name ‘Geezer’ is a play on the word ‘geyser.’
Though the store’s name grew out of Idaho, the family has strong ties to Moab.
“I’m the fourth generation to live here, but none of us have been born here,” Evans said, noting that his grandparents owned a flower shop in Moab in the 1980s and his grandfather founded Grace Lutheran Church in Moab.
That connection drew the family to move the business down to Moab. Evans found a vacant building that had previously housed a dance studio. It took two semi-trucks to move all the coolers, freezers, meat cases, and butchering tools from Soda Springs to Moab, he said.
“Luckily I had some really good friends up there…I just let them load it all up. Everything made it just perfect,” Evans recalled.
Today, the store stocks different cuts of a variety of meats, cheese and cheese curds as well as dry sundries like flour, rice and beans. Many of the products are from regional suppliers in places like Logan, Utah, or Cortez, Colorado.
At Ol’ Geezer, you can find over thirty kinds of sausages, a few of which are made in-house, and a custom selection of beef jerky flavors. The atmosphere is quirky and intimate with colorful goods densely shelved, meat cases installed at acute angles to fit in the snug space, and a little squish underfoot from the old dance-studio flooring. In one case, the pork sausage is molded to look like a pig’s face with large “googly eyes” as a finishing touch. The pig is a favorite with young customers.
“We have some kids that come in and say, ‘Ooh, I want some pig butt!’” Evans said with a smile.
What really distinguishes Ol’ Geezer from other grocery stores, Evans said, is that they cut their own meat and dry age it.
“When you dry age, it starts breaking down more of the enzymes, which makes it more tender,” Evans explained. “I think it gives it a good flavor as well. I try to get it at least a month old, if not older.”
Some customers, he said, prefer their cuts even more aged—to the point of mold. Evans acknowledged that it doesn’t sound appetizing, but he said it does improve the texture and flavor of the cooked product.
“It will be the most tender piece of meat you’ll ever have,” he said of those aged cuts. “When I cut into them, the smell of it—it just starts making your mouth water. I love the older meat.”
The store also stocks fresher cuts to accommodate different preferences.
Ol’ Geezer’s success is evident in the loyalty and enthusiasm of their clientele. Evans said they’ve seen many of the same faces returning for years—both locals and some tourists that make sure to include a stop at the store during their annual visit to Moab. Evans said he’s had customers from Europe who said the store was recommended to them by their neighbors at home.
Moab local Casey Montandon is a loyal Ol’ Geezer customer. He and his partner, Emily Klarer, shop there often.
“We love how small-town it is,” Montandon said of the store. “They genuinely care about the people that come in and the quality of what they have in stock.”
Montandon has been visiting the store for the last fifteen years, often buying jerky for backpacking trips or river trips.
“Also some of the best steaks in town when we want to get a little fancier and celebrate something,” he added.
Montandon’s favorite Geezer jerky is the ‘Cha-Ching’ variety, which is seasoned with smoke flavor, garlic, and soy. The Geezer website warns that with this particular garlic flavor “whomever you kiss should eat this also.”
This year, Ol’ Geezer celebrated its twentieth anniversary in Moab. During that time, the town has grown and changed but Evans views that growth with optimism.
“We were almost on the very end of town a decade and a half ago,” he said. “But now with everything finally building up this way, I think it’s going to slowly keep moving to where we’re going to be almost in the center.”
This year, the large Wingate hotel was constructed on the property adjacent to the meat shop. Evans said they’ve had some hotel guests visit the shop since it opened.
“I can’t wait for it to be busy,” he said, looking forward to the hotel generating more business for the shop. He noted that many of the rooms are equipped with outdoor grills, a perfect prompt for guests to visit Ol’ Geezer for a cut of meat.
When Evans isn’t working, his favorite hobby is attending comic conventions and participating in ‘cosplay,’ or wearing elaborate costumes replicating fictional characters. He has costumes for various characters from ‘Star Wars,’ Cobra Commander from ‘G.I. Joe,’ and the new version of the comics character Dr. Strange. He has attended comic cons in Salt Lake City, Grand Junction, Denver and Albuquerque as well as the local Moab event.
Evans plans on sticking with the shop until he retires. When that happens, he hopes that his niece or nephew might be interested in carrying on the family business.
In the meantime, Ye Ol’ Geezer will carry on in the same location.
“We own it, and I don’t plan on getting rid of it anytime soon,” he said of the shop, noting that he has no interest in selling out to developers.
“I know the business really well,” he said. “And I don’t have to work for anybody else.”