NEWBERRY — After three years of planning, Kevin Looney and Linda Smith opened The Palms Meat and Seafood Market on July 9 at 382 Wilson Road, providing a different type of meat and produce to the community.
“We have been planning this business and purchasing equipment for over three years, and we are excited to finally open,” Smith said. “We are here to provide our community with personal and knowledgeable service and higher quality meats and seafood than most grocery stores offer.”
Both Looney and Smith have unique experiences that help them run the Market. Looney has been in the food service industry for over 24 years and has operated his family-owned restaurant, The Palms Grill and Bar, since 2004.
Smith started working with Looney at the restaurant in 2009 and together they operate the restaurant’s catering business. The couple’s upbringing gave them the experience they now use at the Market.
“I grew up enjoying fresh meats when my grandparents butchered on their farms and fresh seafood my family caught during summer vacations,” Smith said. “Kevin enjoyed meats and vegetables his grandparents produced on their farms when he was growing up.”
Along with Smith’s and Looney’s experience and drive to open the Market, the Market is now open because Mike Culley, the Market’s butcher. Culley use to work as a chef at The Palms, but moved away. When he returned, he approached Looney and Smith about returning as a chef.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“We told him he could come back and we just started talking. We told him we were thinking about opening the Market. He got excited and said that was his dream job,” Smith said.
Looney added that his culinary background and experience allow them to trust him to handle the Market by himself.
The Market has a variety of beef, pork, chicken, seafood, house-made sausage, dips and many other items.
“We offer pre-cut and cut-to-order meats by our in-house butcher (Culley). Over the next few weeks the Market will grow as we will be gradually adding new product and services. The community can look forward to new offerings over the next months,” Smith said.
Looney said they are using a lot of high quality meats, focusing on everything domestic. The chicken comes from a farm in Dillon. The chickens are free range and and do not have any hormones or preservatives. The beef is Black Angus that comes from U.S. Foods in Charlotte, N.C. The cows are also free range.
“We wanted to give people options and the meats taste different. We did a taste test and the Black Angus was so much better tasting than those with preservatives,” Looney said.
The seafood offered is both farm raised and wild. The salmon is wild, something Looney says has added health benefits.
The Market also offers fresh, local produce, something that allows customers to do one-stop shopping.
“When someone comes in they can pick everything up for dinner instead of going to a big box store,” Smith said.
The produce comes from Chappells Nursery on Wilson Road and Canebreak Farm in Saluda provides the canned products such as jellies, jams and pickled products.
The house-made sausage can be attributed to Smith’s mom (Faye Cannon) and aunt (Judy Frick). They showed Smith and Looney how to make sausage using an old family recipe. The recipe has been tweaked and is now used to make mild, onion and hot sausage. Smith said her mom and aunt have offered to come back to teach them how to make liver pudding.
The prices of beef and chicken will fluctuate as the market changes, which means the prices could go up or go down from one week to the next.
“We have a great staff of over 40 people employed at the restaurant, a catering staff of eight people and we have started off with one full-time and two part-time employees at the Market. Our employees, along with the support from the Newberry community, are the reason we are able to have successful businesses, and we are grateful for them all,” Smith said.
The Palms Meat and Seafood Market is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Call 803-321-1613 or visit thepalmsmeatandseafoodmarket.com for more information. They can also be found on Facebook.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.