Thomas Brothers Meat Processing on Thomas Street, North Wilkesboro, has been acquired by its largest customer, Seth Church and his business, Wilkes County-based Apple Brandy Beef LLC.
Owner Ted Thomas decided to retire from the meat processing business and offered to sell Thomas Brothers to Church. The sale was in early May and Thomas is now working as a truck driver. He bought an 18-wheeler this spring.
Robert “Rob” Thomas Sr., who was Ted Thomas’ grandfather, started Thomas Brothers after the 1940 flood washed away the International Shoe Co. tannery in North Wilkesboro and left him without a job. It grew to become one of western North Carolina’s largest meat processors.
With the sale of the business to Apple Brandy Beef, it’s now called Apple Brandy Prime Cuts. Church said the 10 people who worked at Thomas Brothers before he bought the business and its facilities on Thomas Street still work there. He said it still offers custom meat processing to the public and is still USDA inspected.
Hogs account for about half of the slaughtering and processing, cattle a little less than 45% and the remainder lamb, goat and ostrich, he said.
The business sell fresh Apple Brandy beef on a daily basis, but has a retail area that sells various cuts and types of meat and certain specialty products from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m Fridays and Saturdays. There are plans to expand hours.
Church said he’s fortunate to have a reliable farm crew working with the cattle because of the amount of time he’s been spending lately at Apple Brandy Prime Cuts.
Apple Brandy Beef, in business since 2006, produces its own purebred Hereford-Angus cross calves with premium carcass traits and raises them in pastures in Mulberry, Mountain View, Purlear and near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Alleghany County until they reach a certain weight.
At that point, they’re moved to a local feed lot and fed corn until they’re ready for slaughter and processing at the facility Apple Brandy Beef now owns. Church said the carcasses, weighing 650 to 850 pounds, “dry hang” in a cooler for 14-30 days. This enhances marbling and tenderness.
Apple Brandy Beef supplies numerous restaurants with beef, “from blue collar to white table cloth,” as well as butcher shops, said Church. Most of its customers are in the Asheville area, but also in Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Traveler’s Rest, S.C.
“Apple Brandy Beef is proud to be part of every step of production and processing, from conception of the animal to distributing delicious steaks to consumers,” said Church, a fourth generation Wilkes County cattleman.