A New Retail Store for High-Quality Meat

A local business that serves local people is getting ready for a big expansion.

“Our customers demanded it,” says Elam Lengacher, owner of E & L Farms and Processing, 15610 Grabill Road, Grabill, Ind. “They can’t get enough bacon, steaks, and they want more special cuts.”

By mid-summer he expects to open a retail store on the property where they currently have a meat-processing plant.

The additional building, more than 11,000 square feet, will devote about one-third of the space to a retail store, specializing in Tri-State Cheese and the processing, smoking, cutting and packaging of meats, including beef and pork. People can buy fresh or frozen packaged meats and get custom cuts, he says.

The company also processes sheep, goat, buffalo, elk, bear and deer, but these will not be for sale in the retail store.

“People will be able to buy fresh ground beef in any quantity and order the thickness of steaks while they wait,” Lengacher says.

E & L Farms and Processing opened 12 years ago, yet Lengacher had been processing deer for hunters since 2003.

“Once the word got around, the demand for services only grew,” he says. “Customers wanted fresh beef and pork, without added water and other chemicals. It’s pure meat and it not only tastes better – it’s better for you.”

Custom slaughter operations are typically thought to process deer meat for hunters, but they can also offer services for people who want any animal processed for their own personal use, whether they hunted the animal or bought it from a farmer. The meat is cut, packaged and labeled “not for sale” and returned to the owner of the animal.

Custom slaughterhouses do not have a state or federal inspector on duty, however, the facilities are regularly inspected by the state for overall sanitation.

People have traveled up to almost four hours for the business’s deer-processing services and have traveled from Tennessee, Florida and Chicago to buy custom butchered meats, Lengacher says.

By 2011, he added a 5,000-square-foot building on his property and started slaughtering and processing beef and pork for people who wanted to buy a whole animal or certain portions. He now raises his own animals as well as processes animals from area farmers.

“All the meat we process and sell comes from our own farm or from a nearby farmer, and they’re raised with no added hormones,” he says.

Lengacher and his wife, Laura, have eight children, five of whom work full time for them. Of seven grandchildren, a few have helped around the farm and are showing an interest in the family business.

Born and raised on a farm in Grabill, Lengacher never expected to make a career out of meat processing. He saw the need, though, when he started hunting deer, and his wife, who worked at a meat processing plant, would bring home seasonings to use while cooking the meat.

Working in construction, he often ate deer for lunch. After sharing samples of the meat with other workers, they encouraged him to start a business.

The first year, he processed 150 deer. During the most recent deer season, in 2023-24, he processed 2,640 deer.

The Amish family feels blessed for their upbringing and how it helps their business today.

“When people hear the word Amish, they automatically think quality, homemade, no additives and not mass produced. We are blessed to have had the upbringing we had because without modern conveniences, you learn how to do things,” Lengacher says.