Hangin’ with Klecko: When a Butcher Meets a Baker…
On a cold winter evening, with time to kill, I pulled into Cheapo Records on Snelling Avenue to rummage through their vinyl. My main reason for stopping was to see if they had The Pale Waves debut album.
Whenever I go on one of these missions, it’s easy to get distracted before I even began looking for what I came for. I found myself surrounded by John Coltrane and lost track of time. Who knows, maybe I’d still be there, but a voice across the room blurted out in my direction:
“All we need is the candle maker.”
As I looked up I saw the grin of Glen Wadie.
Glen and I go back a bit; I sold him bread when he was the kitchen manager at O’Gara’s.
Klecko: “Hey, Glen, good to see you, we don’t normally get Eastsiders here.”
Glen: “Yeah, I don’t like to be unfaithful to my neighborhood record store, but there’s so much vinyl to look at, huh?”
Klecko: “Right, are you looking for something in particular?”
Brothers in Vinyl, Glen Wadie, the former kitchen manager for O”Gara’s. talks to Klecko about the good old days and the new gig he’s taking on.
Glen: “I never go with an album in mind. I just like to go. When I was younger, I’d save my money and buy whatever the guys at the record store were buying because they were the coolest guys in the world.”
Klecko: “I heard it through the grapevine that you are a butcher now. What’s that all about?
Glen: “Yeah, I’m over at Tim and Tom’s Speedy Market. Technically I’m not a butcher. It’s not like we have entire cows in the back of the building to dismantle. I’m more of a meat cutter. But meat cutter doesn’t sound as impressive as butcher, huh?”
Klecko: “If you cut meat, it’s close enough for me. I’m going with butcher. By the way, I was going through a job change around the time you were, but I just wanted to say sorry. Did you stay at O’Gara’s until they closed?”
Glen: “I did. I wasn’t kitchen manager all that long, but I can say I got to do at least one St. Patrick’s Day. It was a rush, but I guess the one upside is I didn’t have to takes notes to remember how to do what we were doing the following year.”
At this point the two of us wander aimlessly together through the aisles. For no particular reason, Glen stopped in the P-aisle and pulled Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” album from the rack:
Glen: “Doesn’t Iggy almost look normal here? It looks like they used his graduation picture.”
Klecko: “Better, yet how cool is it that Iggy gets placed next to Elvis? Do you have a favorite Elvis album or period?”
Glen: “For sure the Sun Records era. He was pure back then, but thinking about it, ‘In the Ghetto’ is his best song, and that’s so opposite of what I just said.”
Klecko: “So how does a kitchen manager end up scoring a butcher job?”
Glen: “I was lucky, I have a friend who works there and he spoke up for me.”
Klecko: “Is the job as you imagined it might be?”
Glen: “Yes and no, I like it, a lot. Tim, one of the owners, has been training me. A lot of what I do is seasonal. In November, I pretty much sell turkeys around the clock. I’m just doing my best to figure out how much to cut before I go home. You don’t want to run out of ribeyes, but you also don’t want to have too many left over. Figuring the numbers is an art form.
“During Christmas I did over a ton of Christmas sausage. That’s impressive when you remember we are a neighborhood grocery store. After the New Year starts, our sandwich numbers dip. A lot of the college kids make resolutions that they can save money by packing their own lunch, but within a week, that’s over and they come back.”
Klecko: “Is ownership cool?”
Glen: “Yeah, they are. They pretty much let us try anything once, as long as it’s in addition to having plenty of ribeyes and New York strips.
“Another great thing about working there is it’s a grocery store, so I get to spend most of the day figuring out what I’m going to bring home and cook for my wife.
“We sell teres major, you know, butter steaks. They are really tender and really affordable. I’m not sure if anyone else in St. Paul sells them, but I bring them home with a pile a mushrooms, a bit of cream and, wham, you’ve got yourself a deconstructed stroganoff.”
At this point we moved over to the new arrivals and began flipping through the bins. If you’ve ever done this, you know how hypnotic the clicking sound of CDs can be. Glen and I became silent, that is until one of the Cheapo employees joined us.
Glen: “Klecko, I don’t know if you know John, years ago he and I worked together at a record store called the Root Cellar.”
Klecko: “Hey, John, nice meeting you. As I’ve been standing here, I’ve been thinking about writing up Glen for a trade publication, would you have anything to add?”
John: “One day Glen and I were working and Bill Murray came into the store and bought a Nirvana album for his kid. He was on the way to a Saints game. Mention that. People like Bill Murray.”
At this point I caught Glen peeking at his watch. It appeared our time was drawing to a close.
Klecko: “Glen, I can’t tell you how happy I am that you landed on your feet. I hope being a butcher works out for you, but then again how could it not. You get to bring home meat.”
Glen: “Thanks Klecko, it was great seeing you, but to tell you the truth, the best part of my new gig is I get to spend evenings with my wife. For the last 10 years I’ve worked shifts where I’d have to race home, not to hang out with her, but just to kiss her goodnight. I like this better.”
Well friends, that’s another one in the books.
Until next time…
Dan “Klecko” McGleno can be reached at email@example.com or 651-329-4321.