Butcher shop survives through the years

Dave Woodruff, owner of DJ’s Fine Meats in Alabaster, helps a customer in his shop off Alabama 119. Woodruff has run the business since 2007. (Special/Sandra Thames)

By SANDRA THAMES / Community Columnist

In the North, there are butcher shops, specialty meats or meat markets on practically every corner.

In the South, most folks buy their cuts of meat from the grocery store.

When I was growing up we had the “Meat Block” in Eight Mile, Ala. Here in Alabaster, we are fortunate to have DJ’s Fine Meats. It is owned and operated by Dave Woodruff (a New Orleans native) who came into the business sort of by default.

Woodruff and wife Ellie moved to Alabama in 1976, to Birmingham in 1984 and to Homewood in 1994. Most of that time, Woodruff was employed by Bell South.

They have three adult children, Michael, Jennifer and Jill. A relative in Louisiana had a Meineke franchise and kept urging the Woodruffs to try that when Dave retired.

In 2001, Woodruff left Bell South, bought two trailer parks and became a landlord. In 2003, he sold some property and applied for his franchise license from Meineke. After much searching, the Woodruffs decided our Alabaster area was rapidly expanding and found a location suitable for their Meineke franchise.

They “detailed” it to their own specifications, and in June 2004, opened for business on Highway 119 between the Alabaster Post Office and the Publix Shopping Center.

After the end unit, which formerly housed a hair salon, was vacated the next year Woodruff leased that unit to Derrick and Justin from Baton Rouge, La., as a specialty meat shop, thus the DJ’s name.

Known for its fine steaks of all kinds, chops, regular or house ground beef patties, several types of sausages, stuffed baked potatoes, chicken, seasonings and cooking advice, DJ’s quickly found its place in our area.

In November 2007, Derrick and Justin made the difficult decision to close their business. For several reasons, Dave Woodruff decided to purchase stock and buy them out. No. 1, he needed the rent, and the building was already set up for that type business. No. 2, he himself was a loyal customer and believed in the products they offer, and No. 3, he felt there was customer need and appreciation of the products.

After a crash course in butchering, Woodruff is now at the business full time.

His friend Bobby Molan helps part-time and, in a pinch, son Michael can help.

Woodruff wants to move to Chilton County and semi-retire.

His wife is a great cook and enjoys growing her own veggies.

When asked what he looks forward to, he replied, “Living simply, leaving the rat race and bush hogging all day.”

Community columnist Sandra Thames can be reached by e–mail at bobthames1942@yahoo.com.