RESTAURANTS

Anvil Meat Market & Deli takes up long legacy of Czech Village butcher shops in Cedar Rapids

Owner Steven Prochaska weighs a pound of beef fajitas for a customer Saturday at the Anvil Meat Market and Deli in the C
Owner Steven Prochaska weighs a pound of beef fajitas for a customer Saturday at the Anvil Meat Market and Deli in the Czech Village in Cedar Rapids.
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At Anvil Meat Market & Deli, Steven Prochaska’s new business in Czech Village, some old Czech favorites are coming back.

The location housed Village Meat Market from after the Floods of 2008 until December. Before that it was Pohlena’s Meat Market. Prochaska’s great-grandfather used to work there, and Prochaska has many of their classic recipes.

“There’s been a butcher shop, or multiple shops, on this street for the past 130 years. I think it’s super important to have a meat market with some Czech specialties in it,” he said. “We have natural casing Czech-style hot dogs. I probably sold 50 pounds of them in the first four days we were open. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about Pohlena’s, those hot dogs, sausages, the butcher loaf they used to do on Saturdays.”

For those who remember and miss that butcher loaf, Prochaska is making it, and people can order it any day of the week.

Alongside of the Czech classics, he has all kinds of meat, from ground beef and steaks to deli meats, charcuterie and sausages.

He also makes sandwiches, currently available for carryout or curbside pickup, and tentatively plans to open his dining room to customers June 9. He calls Anvil an “East-coast style deli and meat market.”

“Basically you can get your sub sandwiches, lox and cream cheese bagel, one pound pastrami and corn beef sandwiches, Reubens, phillys, French dips, the old style deli preparations,” he said.

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The business is not a full service butcher — he’s not slaughtering and breaking down whole animals, instead sourcing Iowa beef, pork and chicken from area meat lockers. He is, however, making his own sausages, corned beef, pastrami and more in-house.

That pastrami is only available on sandwiches for now, because it was so popular in the first few days after the shop opened May 14 that he worried he would run out. He hopes to make it available for sale by the pound in the future.

‘People are very excited about the pastrami,” he said. “I’m working on it.”

Prochaska, is also the owner of the Sausage Foundry in NewBo City Market. He said he’d been wanting to open a restaurant for a while, and when Village Meat Market owner Lou Oettinger-Thompson decided to retire, he saw his opportunity.

Of course, he wasn’t expecting a pandemic to coincide with his opening, but he said the challenge and work of launching a new business has been good.

“At a certain point you realize you can work through the fear of uncertainty by keeping your hands busy,” he said.

He said his meat supply hasn’t been impacted with shut downs of meat processing plants due to coronavirus outbreaks since he sources from meat lockers that process outside that supply chain. However, he has seen prices rise.

“There is no shortage of beef, pork or chicken or lamb, but there is a fairly massive increase in pricing. Over the last three weeks, prices on beef rib-eye probably doubled. We’re not going to have super cheap steaks in the case for a while,” he said. “But I did make up some ground beef, with no limits on how much you can buy. We’ll sell what we got.”

He hopes to keep the Czech Village meat market tradition going for a long time.

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“I plan to be here for the next 25 or 30 years. You’ve got to set those long-term goals,” he said. “And who knows, if it takes off, maybe we’ll franchise. People are already asking when I’m going to open a deli in Des Moines.”

Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

If you go

l What: Anvil Meat Market & Deli

l Where: 92 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids

l Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Currently open for shopping the meat counter and for carryout and curbside pickup of prepared food. Planning to open the dining room June 9.

l Details: (319) 265-6328, anvilmeatmarketanddeli.com

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