Edwards Meats opened in Wheat Ridge in1961 next to Abner”s Garden Center. In 1966 both Abner”s and Edwards moved to their current location. They have been a family-run business for three generations. “My grandfather started it, my dad took it over from him, and I”m working on it.” said Darin Edwards who runs most of the day-to-day operations. When answering how the market stood the test of time, Darin explained, “We have always focused on personalized service” pointing with pride to his friendly staff willing to help customers with anything from dinner ideas to cooking tips. “We also have added store space and services, including a smoke house, and continue to add to our line of products.” A specialty grocery and deli with prepared foods make for a convenient one-stop shopping market for meals, parties, and special events. They even have charcoal and wood chips for the barbeque ” 18 different kinds! First-time customers to Edwards Meats should plan some extra time to absorb all that it has to offer. Not that the market is overwhelming in size, it”s easily negotiable, but it is packed with loads of familiar and exotic products. There are all kinds of steaks, roasts and beef ” from ground to Rocky Mountain Oysters (bull bollucks) – pork, poultry, Colorado lamb, veal, fresh fish & seafood, buffalo and wild game ” cut fresh or smoked to your liking. There are probably close to fifty (no, I didn”t count) kinds of homemade sausages ” fresh or smoked. How about a turduckin (turkey stuffed with Creole stuffing, a boneless duck, and a boneless chicken?) Included in the most recent products category at Edwards are the Irish specialty meats developed by meat cutter and former native of Belfast, Stephen McCabe. Stephen has been cutting meat for the past five years, and over the course has introduced popular items including Back Bacon, Irish Pork-n-Leek Sausage, Breakfast Bangers, Guinness Sausage and Irish Black & White Pudding, to name a few. Stephen was not originally hired to develop Irish products. “I hired him specifically because he”s about one of the only meat cutters that knows as much as I do” Darin answered bluntly, adding, “He”s great, he can do everything in this place that I can do ” which is pretty amazing ” I”ve been here 20 years, and I”ve never seen anyone come in here and run all of the equipment that we have and do all of the different things that we do ” and know how to do it! As the story goes, Darin brought Stephen in for a two week trial as a meat cutter. After a day or two working at the market the duely-impressed Darin offered Stephen a full-time job. Stephen laughs when he recalled the job try-out. “I had to impress them, the very first number I called was Edwards Meats ” the other eight I called weren”t hiring! Darin and staff were not only impressed with Stephen”s exceptional meat cutting skills, but his customer service skills tracked right in line with the their philosophy. “We get great feedback from customers who return asking, “where”s that Irish guy, he really helped me”". But as far as Stephen was concerned, “it was just the way I was brought up over there ” just leave what I”m doing and go out and talk to people ” treat people like a human being not as a dollar sign.” His meat-cutting skills and work ethic are all part of a job that Stephen really enjoys, “They have accepted me with open arms and I love working for them ” they”re just a great bunch of guys ” a real family-run business.” Both Stephen”s meat-cutting skills and work ethic were developed in Belfast. He grew up in the Catholic financially-depressed Falls Road neighborhood ” ground zero for activities involving “The Troubles” that ignited the underlying hatred between Republican and Unionist sentiments in the later half of last century. If it wasn”t for a couple of twists of fate and strong advice from an older brother, Stephen may have never seen the light of a Colorado day. Stephen left school at the age of 14, a very vulnerable age in a dangerous place and time. He and some of his neighborhood friends took advantage of a work program offered through the Christian Brothers secondary school, Gort na Mona (The Fields of Turf.) The program tried to keep kids off the street, so as not to be recruited into the activities of “The Troubles” ” which meant in Stephen”s neighborhood, a high percentage of getting jail time, or losing life. Luckily, his fate was sealed by a coin toss from one of the Christian Brothers. “It was a toss-up between me and another guy to get a job between a meat market and supermarket ” I called heads and ended up working in a meat shop called Billy Larkeys”" for which he was initially paid about a pound a week. “If I could shake his hand I”d shake his hand ” he did me two good things, he got me a trade that I could carry into the new world and a second chance of life.” For the next 20 years Stephen went on to work and learn his trade at a number of meat markets around Belfast. He even tried out at a few higher paying jobs in the Protestant markets but on threats of his life “learned to work in my comfort zone.” Stephen also brought up the name of his oldest brother Tony McCabe for whose passing the family just celebrated the second anniversary. Having spent time in jail for activities with the troubles, Tony gave advice to Stephen and his other four brothers to keep away from the gangs and groups involved in the strife. He told them that they would become just like a lighter ” once your flame went out you would be disposable. “My brother Tony was like a Shephard”s star that would lead you in the right direction ” he got me to the clean, and straight, and narrow and I”ve come through life with not too many points against me.” In the year 2000, the decision to move to America came sudden and absolute. Stephen was living in Belfast with his wife Darlene, who was originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, and their Belfast-born baby girl Ciara. One night they heard a commotion in front of their house; they opened their door to find a gunman motion them back inside and on the floor. A short time later shots rang out as two men in the neighborhood were shot. As soon as she could, Darlene left with the baby for Colorado. Stephen started an 11-month paperwork process to get his “Green Card” and followed his family to Colorado. Stephen and Darlene have since added 2 more girls, Breanna and Kaleigh, to their Wheat Ridge home. Much of their leisure time is spent with the Denver Gaels. Stephen has seemed to have found a comfort zone in his new home. He still has friends and family in Belfast and speaks about them with fondness. He does not talk bitter about “the Troubles” and just chalks it up to “the unfortunate history of Ireland”. Along with the so-many others, he has fingers crossed and hands held in prayer as the new power-sharing Executive took place last month inside Stormont Assembly in Belfast. It is hoped that the Executive, which includes former adversarial Republican and Unionist parties, will make a giant step toward a lasting peace and equality in Northern Ireland. As much as he is proud of his roots, Stephen is grateful for his “new life”. “I thank all of the people I have met in America who have not done me wrong ” and if I get a chance I will do them right.” So stop down to the Colorado landmark Edwards Meats and ask for “that Irish guy” and let him do you right. Edwards Meats, 12280 W. 44th Avenue, Wheat Ridge, Colorado (I-70 and 1 block East of Ward Road; Exit 266) OPEN 7 DAYS Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.Sunday, 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Information online at www.edwards-meats.com Order by phone, 303-422-4397.

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