The Berghoff and The Palmer House were early customers. The next two generations got out of the business. But now, one of their descendants has opened a custom butcher shop in Northfield, where they're trying to bring back some of that Old World craftsmanship.
Sean Hofherr has the beef business in his DNA.
"It was my great great grandfather and my great grandfather who started it when they immigrated here from Wurzburg, Germany. They had everything from the slaughterhouse to the packing facility all the way to the retail counter and they had that down on South Clark Street," said Hofherr.
EXTRA COURSE: Homemade soups at Hofherr Meat Co.
Hofherr opened his own place six years ago in a Northfield strip mall, where he's carrying on some of those Old World traditions. They dry-age beef, trimming and prepping to the customer's specifications.
They produce upwards of 40 types of sausage, making every one of them by hand, cranking them into casings then either selling fresh, frozen or smoked.
Briskets and pork shoulders spend time in the smoker, producing pastrami and other delicacies. The smoked pork shoulder is one of several items that are made in-house, and can be used to create a custom charcuterie platter for a party.
"Right now we're actually working with some hogs we got from Wagner Farms from Glenview. Really, really nice Berkshire hogs and we're using that for our charcuterie," he said.
Whole chickens are cooked slowly throughout the day on a rotisserie, but what you can't see is that sheet pan of potatoes below, soaking up the melted chicken fat. If you reserve one ahead of time, they'll pack the whole bird on top of those potatoes for an easy dinner for four. There are condiments, pickles and chips - plenty of material to make your own lunch. But if you wanted to, you could choose from about a half dozen sandwiches that are made here as well, and can be eaten on their communal table.
Hofherr said he and his staff often think about how what they do has a direct connection to his relatives - some of the earliest settlers in Chicago.
"We laugh, and it's like if they could see us now, they'd probably be correcting us in a lot of ways, but that'd be great," said Hofherr.
Beef, chicken and pork are definitely the stars here at Hofherr. If you like chicken - specifically fried chicken - Sundays are the days to stop by. You've got to pre-order, so be sure to reserve them on Saturday.
Hofherr Meat Co.
300 N. Happ Rd., Northfield