Eckerlin Meats' History
The Year was 1852 ....
When Findlay Market opened for business in 1855, Eckerlin Meats was there. Until recently, Bob Lillis, Sr. was the fourth generation to run Eckerlin Meats. Bob's great-grandfather, Ernie Eckerlin, came from Baden, Germany. The first Eckerlin Meats was a Cincinnati slaughterhouse that Ernie opened. Ernie expanded the business to include a retail stand at Findlay Market where his daughter, Frieda, worked. She married another Eckerlin employee, Al Lillis. Their son, Bob, continued the business. Bob's six siblings have all been a part of the family business at one point or another while they were growing up. When their dad retired in 1983, it was Bob who carried Eckerlin Meats into its fourth generation. He was 23 years old, and had been behind at the store every Saturday since he was a kid.
Fifth and Sixth Generations
When Bob Lillis, Sr. handed the business down to Bob Lillis, Jr., who runs the business today, the fifth generation took charge. Moreover, one or more of Bob's kids, Christopher, Dan, Josh, and Katie, can be found working Saturdays, so the sixth generation is also emerging as well.
Making sirloin patties was one of Bob's first jobs. He also remembers being quite young as he skewered "city chicken," which is actually chunks of pork or veal on a stick. Several legends explain how "City Chicken" got its name. Bob grew up believing the name began with folks from the country who thought the skewered meat looked like a chicken leg. Since they encountered it only in the city, the skewered meat became "city chicken."
Current Product Offerings
Today, Bob still offers many favorites enjoyed by his great grandfather's very first customers, including goetta. This local specialty is a mixture of pork, beef, oatmeal, onions, and spices, formed into a loaf and cooked slowly. It's been a part of Cincinnati cuisine since the first German immigrants arrived.
Bob makes "Eckerlin's Best Goetta" every day, from a family recipe over one hundred years old. On the label is a turn-of-the-century photograph of his Grandmother Frieda's brother, Adolph Eckerlin, in his Mt. Adams butcher shop. Adolph is dapper in a dress shirt (sleeves rolled up, of course) and necktie underneath his butcher's apron. The sign behind the counter reads "The best goetta in town." It's the best in the world, according to many customers today.
Bob ships his goetta all over the U.S. He has customers visiting from Germany, and when they're in Cincinnati, they buy Eckerlin's goetta to take back home. In town, it's been voted "Best Goetta" twice by Cincinnati Magazine. Every week, Eckerlin's sells 300 to 500 pounds of goetta, as lots of local customers continue to cast their votes with their wallets.
Additional Products and Services
The store is also well-known for fresh cuts of beef, select pork, and chicken. Other homemade fare includes fresh sausages, braciole, barbecue, and rouladen. Bob, his family, and his employees stuff the chicken breasts, flank steaks, and pork chops themselves.
You'll also find choice cuts of low-fat bison meat raised without antibiotics or hormones. Eckerlin's offers several kinds of bacon, including Cajun, country pepper, hickory-smoked, and low-salt.
Eckerlin Meats also caters parties, with a large assortment of sandwich, vegetable, and fruit trays, and even a super-sized three-foot party sub.
Do you have any questions or comments for us?
Phone us at (513) 721-5743