City Meat Market is a business in downtown Sault Ste. Marie that has never closed in its 119-year existence. For a while, it was located across the street from where it is now on Queen St., but the business has endured and flourished through many changes over its long history.
Today, the Bruni family owns the store. John and Rosina Bruni purchased it 14 years ago, and today their daughter Lori Nowitski and son-in-law Jamie Elliot partner with the Brunis to make their business a truly family-run affair.
Originally from Italy, both John and Rosina came to Canada when they were children. At 12 years old, John went straight to work. He worked in the meat business for 35 years in Sault Ste. Marie, then retired and bought City Meat Market and hasn’t looked back.
I talked with daughter Lori for this interview while at the store. It’s a busy place, as it’s the only grocery store in the downtown area and a frequent stop for area residents as well as visitors.
Lori proudly talks about her dad, who she says “is in the shop by 3:30 each morning to bake the bread for the store. He makes loaves, buns, and freshly grinds meat every day. My mom loves working at the front of the store and chatting with customers.
“We take pride in our service and the quality we are able to offer our customers,” she adds. “For no extra charge, we will marinate and vacuum seal our meats as well as debone turkeys. We also provide meat packages, which gives something different for everyone.”
City Meat Market retails many in-store, freshly made products, including lasagna, fresh tomato sauce, fresh pasta, their own sausages, meat pies, chili, and chicken stock. Their popular in-store made desserts like tie plates, tiramisu, pies, and genettis are a favourite with many customers. They also make grab-and-go sandwiches for the lunch crowd.
While they are known for their meat, City Meat Market provides so much more. Even though it’s small in size compared to the big box stores, it’s a fully stocked store with fresh vegetables, fruits, dairy, and grocery staples too.
Best of all, Lori told me that they have built excellent relationships with area producers and farmers. “We source locally, including fresh and smoked fish from Agawa Fishery, eggs, poultry, and produce from Desbarats Country Produce, meat from Penokean Hill Farms. Over 90% of our fresh produce will be local during the season. Local for us is from Algoma.” On the shelves are St. Joseph Island Coffee, honey from Country Way Farms in Bruce Mines, dairy products from Lock City Dairy, as well as Superior Maple and Thompson Maple products.
Lori explained that the growing Muslim community in Sault Ste. Marie has found them and they trust City Meat Market to bring in halal meats for their customers. The fact that the mosque is close by makes it convenient for all.
I learned that City Meat Market has expanded their business outside of the retail store and serves the community in supplying many business and organizations, including the Canadian Coast Guard, area churches, along with Sault and area restaurants like Mar Mac Lodge, Muio’s, Ernie’s, Boots and Saddles, Uncle Gino’s, Mrs. B’s, Water Tower Inn Pub, and The Zone in Goulais. They also offer home delivery for their customers.
Back at the store, “Tourists are always stopping in, especially when the cruise ships come in. They look for Canadian bacon and we’re happy to oblige,” smiles Lori. “We’re in a very good location for tourists with the Ermatinger House just across the street and the Bush Plane Museum close by. A lot of our visitors are from the US, as well as family and friends who come in and spend time in the downtown area of Sault Ste. Marie.”
With Elliot’s Ice Cream just one door down, owned by Tina and son-in-law Jamie Elliot, this downtown block is a great place to visit for tourists and local residents alike.
“We very much appreciate the loyalty of our customers” said Lori.
This is a proud, hard-working family business, and it shows in the way they serve their customers and take care with pride of all the products they offer.