Sarah Walker-Lewis is particularly proud of the sleekness of the beer cooler doors and the subtle LED lighting inside the case Freedom Meat Lockers.
Walker-Lewis, whose parents opened Freedom Meat Lockers in 1970, says customers are more excited that the butcher and sandwich shop off Green Valley Road is selling beer and local wines.
"People love it," she says, a huge grin spreading across her face.
Adding a modest selection of alcohol made sense for Freedom Meat Lockers, a favorite for people's weekend BBQ needs. Customers already could pick up the steaks, marinated chicken or sausages needed for a summer weekend get-together, along with classic colas and a variety of prepared salads. But they would have to go elsewhere for a six-pack.
After going through the rigorous city licensing process, Freedom Meat Lockers began selling beer in mid-July. Local wines are being added to the selection, according to Walker-Lewis.
"It was a lot of hoops to jump through, but it's really worth it," she says.
The shop had to set up cameras to watch the outdoor eating areas—a requirement to prevent underage drinking.
All together, alcohol sales will be a small part of the business, which processes 300,000 pounds of meat annually. This month, butchers are dissecting pigs and cattle from the Santa Clara County Fair, including a couple cows that tipped the scales at more than 1,000 pounds each.
Sides of bacon cure in the back of the fridge while the sausage-making machine runs at full tilt. In the smoker, fresh salmon is smothered with a rich aroma.
For those who don't need custom butchering, the front of the store is stocked with meat products, many of which can be eaten right there as a sandwich.
Freedom Meat Lockers is tucked away off the main road between three family houses. But regulars still manage to find it, like San Jose motorcycle officers on training rides and Watsonville residents who've been coming in for years.
"It's so cool," says Walker-Lewis, watching her mother greet a longtime customer by name. "I've been around it my whole life."