Before Robert’s Meat Market & Steakhouse got its start as a popular restaurant; before it got its start as a grocery store it was a meat market.

Owner Robert Ramirez got his start as a meat cutter, an art and trade he still does to this very day. Consequently, he gave an timeline of his career over the years. He grew up in grocery stores in Brownsville.

He had relatives in Orange and he moved here after living in Brownsville. He then worked at Danny’s Super Foods.

“My first business was on Simmons Drive in 1980. I bought this building (on Park Avenue in Pinehurst) in 1990. It was a meat market at first. It’s been a restaurant for 13 years this November,” he said.

Ramirez began learning the trade working in the meat departments of small retail stores for several months. He later went to work for Weingarten’s in Houston where he learned even more. He said they were a good company to work for. A friend told him about the job opening in the meat market.

He said he started at the bottom deboning meat and even cutting his finger in a tenderizer.

In fact, Ramirez damaged his finger and he shows his young meat cutters to be careful, particularly when they’re in a hurry.

“It’s very painful. I show my employees my finger and tell them to be safe like cutting away from yourself,” he said. “I’ve lost some apprentice meat cutters because they’ve cut themselves three times and I have to let them go because it costs too much.”

“It’s good, steady work (being a meat cutter),” he said. “I can’t find anyone with experience. All of the big store pre-pack meat now.”

Ramirez currently has two girls cutting for him and he said they’re doing a good job. He teaches them the right way to cut and the traditional way.

“When they leave here they know how to do it,” he said.

His restaurant begun when he had four or five tables inside of his market. He saw a market for it and build a dining room first and then added on.

“We’re been really blessed,” Ramirez said. “We only serve choice or Black Angus. The select is a prettier piece of meat. There’s a lot of fat on the Angus.”

The meat market can use everything from a cow or from a hog. If it’s not available, the meat market can get it a couple days.

“We have a lot for a little store,” he said.

Ramirez believes there’s a market for someone to open a training school for meat cutting. There once was one in Victoria.

He still loves cutting meat, but management duties pull him away from from cutting.

“I would rather hire someone experienced and have them stay,” he said.

Photo – Robert Ramirez was a meat cutter before the grocery store or the restaurant. His business has expanded from from those beginnings to what it is today.