LA GRANGE, Texas (KXAN) — A meat market and barbecue joint owned by the same family for 114 years might soon be changing hands.
Prause Market, which opened in La Grange in 1904, is up for sale. If it sells, it will be the first time in its history a Prause won’t be in charge of the business named a Texas Treasure by the Texas Historical Commission.
“Time marches on, so we’ll see where time takes us,” Gary Prause, 64, said. On a recent weekday he was cutting round steaks off of a calf’s hind leg, using a large knife and hand saw to cut through the bone.
It’s what his family’s done for four generations, starting with his great-grandfather, Arnold Prause. These days most of the cutting is done on an electric band saw, but the old ways still have a home at the shop. The meat case is from 1953, and so is the butcher block generations of Prauses have used, worn down over time to half the thickness it used to be.
“It’s home,” Gary said. “It’s home. It’s something I’ve done all my life.”
He’s one of four family members currently working at the shop, the youngest of whom is Mark, the pitmaster, at 54.
“It’s going to hurt,” Mark said, pulling strings of sausage out of a plastic bin and wrapping them up in butcher paper. “It’s not really bothering me right now, but it’s probably going to bother me to close the doors.”
The Prauses aren’t the only ones it’ll bother. Henry Ullrich, a longtime Fayette County resident, stops by for a plate of brisket and sausage a few times a month. His dad brought him here for the first time when he was 10 years old, 61 years ago.
“It’s sad, you know. It’s just a sign of the times though,” he said in between bites of brisket. “It’s just like eating with family.”
But there’s simply not enough family to keep the tradition going. “We only have a few kids, and they’re all doing other things,” Gary said. “We have a sign in the window, we are for sale, but it’s only because there’s no fifth generation coming up.”
“My father passed away about six, seven years ago,” he added, “and having that sign in the window is like losing him all over again.”
But time’s not up yet for the family. The Prauses hope someone wants to buy the shop and keep them on as long as they’re able to keep doing the work.
Karen Kokes has been a customer for eight years and stopped in on her way to Florida to stock up on ground beef and ground sausage for family gatherings. She said it’s better even than the natural grocery stores she occasionally shops at, and would hate to see the market fall into the wrong hands.
“You’re just a little worried that somebody might just change it and it might not be a meat market anymore,” she said.
They’re willing to change if they need to, Gary said, to keep the business going, but while they wait for a buyer, they’ll keep doing what they’ve done across several lifetimes.
“Once it closes,” he said before greeting a customer and walking down the counter to wrap up a couple pork chops for him, “all you have left is the memories.”