A family of German butchers, five generations of Bichelmeyer’s have been providing meat to Kansas City, KS and the surrounding area since the 1890s. Bichelmeyer Meats was founded by John F. Bichelmeyer in 1946. Today it is owned and operated by John’s sons, Jim and Joe, and by his grandson, Matt.
Mathias Bichelmeyer, a professional butcher, came to Kansas City, KS in 1880 from Fussen, Germany. He worked for Swift and Company. His son, George Bichelmeyer, started his first meat market in 1906 at Pyle Street and Miami Avenue. Due to the flood in 1908, it was closed.
After the 1908 flood, George married Antonia Madl and they moved to a farm in Eudora, KS. On the farm they butchered for local farmers. George became a noted butcher in the area. They had ten children. His son, John, grew up helping his father and fell in love with the meat processing business. By the time John was 14, in 1930, he moved to Kansas City, Kansas and worked for his cousin William Mathes, owner of Mathes Meat Company. From there, John went on to work for Bill Gordan in Lawrence, KS. Mr. Gordan’s business didn’t survive the Depression, so John moved to Oskaloosa, KS and was hired as a butcher. A year later, he moved back to Kansas City and worked for Ragan’s Market. Then, in in 1934 John worked for Swift & Co., but was soon laid off. Next, he went back to work for his uncle Frank Mathes’ meat market, slaughterhouse and sausage plant. At the same time, he also worked for Charles Ragan at Ragan’s Market.
While working at Ragan’s, John fell in love with a Strawberry Hill beauty, Mary Matson. They were married on April 24, 1937. Three children and many jobs later (Missouri Packing Company, George Kaiser Packing Company, Meyer Kornblum/Campbell Soup Co. and Snows), John had the experience and money to open his own business.
Origianlly, the business was only a slaughterhouse and large cooler. However, when people heard John had meat for sale, they came. Soon after, a small room was built with a counter and all the necessary equipment.
The market was a success until July 13, 1951. The Big Kansas City Flood destroyed the business. However, John persevered and rebuilt.
John and Mary eventually had 10 children. Two of his sons, Jim and Joe joined their father and purchased Bichelmeyer Meats in 1976. In 1990, Joe’s son, Matt began working there and is now part owner.
Bichelmeyer Meats endured another disaster on April 5, 1995. After roof repairs, fire consumed the market. Jim, Joe and Matt, still passionate and determined, reopened the business in January of 1996.
Bichelmeyer Meats continues to thrive, and what is old is actually new again.