South Milwaukee Sausage and Meats may have just opened its doors this past October, but they’ve already proven the need for a butcher shop in the area based on their volume of sales alone.
“We’ve been busy,” says resident butcher, Michael "Doc" Donnell, who’s been working hard to keep the shelves stocked and the customers happy at the new butcher shop, located at 1200 Milwaukee Ave. in South Milwaukee.
But it’s been a labor of love for the long-time butcher, who fell into a job in the meat department at Pick n Save while he was still in high school and established a career in meat at Sendik’s, where he honed his craft for almost 15 years.
Best known as “DOC,” a nickname earned in high school thanks to his initials (M.D.), Donnell says he most recently worked for Kettle Range Meats, where he gleaned valued experience working in a smaller operation that was closer to the community.
“Over the years, I realized that running a successful business is about offering both a great product and great customer service,” he says, noting that that’s explicitly the goal for South Milwaukee Sausage and Meats, which aims to recreate the look, feel and level of service once prized at old school butcher shops.
In fact, it was his desire to offer folks that personalized service which inspired him to answer the near decade-long call from co-owners Deb Guse, Tom Kubusek, Tom Schissel and Randy Kossow, who’d been urging him for years to join them in opening a hometown butcher shop.
Together, the partners got together and purchased the South Milwaukee building which formerly housed Milwaukee Sausage Company, a venture which closed in January of 2020.
Sausages, custom cuts & more
Head to South Milwaukee Sausage and Meats and you’ll find exactly what the name implies: a variety of housemade sausages, bulk ground meats (chuck, ground round, ground turkey and ground pork) along with fresh cuts of beef, chicken and pork.
Some are available in bulk, others (like 3-pound value packs of chicken, pork shoulder, steaks and chuck roasts) are cryo-packed and stored in the shop’s refrigerator and freezer cases for easy customer access.
But you’ll also find a rotating selection of semi-prepared ready-to-cook items, including marinated meats, pattied burgers (including bacon and cheddar; mushroom and Swiss; black and bleu and three cheese), appetizers (like poppers and stuffed mushroom caps) and prepared items including stuffed peppers, skewered meats, breaded stuffed chicken breasts and stuffed pork roast medallions.
Donnell says he has 50 or more sausage recipes in his collection. So folks will find a fairly wide selection –from basics like breakfast, Polish and Italian sausages – to the Hot Bronson (a hot Polish sausage he created in collaboration with friends years back); the Al Capone (mild Italian with Genoa salami, pepperoni, mozzarella and marinara); Windy City brats (neon relish, tomatoes, dijon mustard and onions) and more (all are priced $4.99 - $6.99 per pound).
“Customers love our Polish sausage,” he says. “Some people say it reminds them of the sausage they used to be able to get at Adamczyk Foods in Cudahy. And that’s good to hear.”
But people are always making requests for new burgers and sausages, he says.
“I love the challenge,” he adds. “And I love being creative.” So, customers can expect new creations moving forward. He says he’s currently working on a few sausages, including Serbian cevapcici, as well as a new “Boiler Maker Burger” which he envisions will incorporate both whiskey cheese and beer cheese.
Donnnell says they will also be growing the selection in the shop to include adjunct items from buns, condiments and sauces to cheese and charcuterie.
Guests can also expect to find butcher shop staples, including hot Badger ham (with rolls from Wild Flour Bakery) for $7.99 per pound on Sundays from 8 a.m. until sold out.
Great customer service
Donnell says they want to provide the best possible experience for customers, so he encourages them to call ahead if they have specific things they’re looking for.
“We’re a very small crew here, and demand has been very high,” he says. “So we really encourage people to call ahead to see what’s available and – even better – place an order. We don’t want anyone to waste a trip here and not get what they need. So, even if we don’t have something you’d like, we can let you know when it will be back in stock.”
Donnell says he’s also more than happy to honor requests for custom cuts or larger meat orders. Customers just need to call and ask, giving a bit of advanced notice.
“We’re offering artisan crafted products,” says Donnell. “But we’re also offering them in a friendly environment. We love having conversations with customers. We want them to be excited about what we do, ask us questions, and tell us their stories. We want to be their butcher shop.”
South Milwaukee Sausage and Meats is open Monday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Closed Tuesday and Wednesday).
Guests can call the shop at (414) 301-4191 with questions or product inquiries and follow South Milwaukee Sausage and Meats on Facebook for specials and updates.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.