BROADALBIN — The owners of Meatland are waiting to find out how much the company’s fire insurance will pay before making a decision on whether to attempt to reopen the family-run butcher business.
Meatland, a wholesale and retail butcher shop, was destroyed in a fire Feb. 27, which left its main meat processing building and retail store at 9 Railroad St. a total loss.
The company is run by brothers Paul, Kevin and John Kisielis. It was begun by their father Bernard Kisielis about 40 years ago. The company was selling approximately 20,000 pounds of meat every two weeks as of 2015.
On Saturday Kevin Kisielis posted a social media message telling the company’s customers that Meatland hopes to rebuild as soon as possible, but on Wednesday Kevin said everything will be contingent on how much the company is able to get from its insurance company.
“The insurance company right now is actually trying to determine what caused the fire. Everything is up in the air right now,” he said. “They’re just trying to figure the cause right now. We have no clue. It started at the back of the building — that’s all we know.”
Fulton County Fire Coordinator Steven Santa Maria has said the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control has been named the lead agency for the investigation, with the Fulton County Fire Investigation Team assisting. They have not yet determined a cause.
Kevin Kisielis said that over the course of its history Meatland previously had only one small fire that was handled with a fire extinguisher.
“When I came down the hill from Vail Mills, on the way, on the night of the fire, I saw a glow in the sky and said ‘Oh God,’ I knew right then that it was bad,” he said.
Meatland’s cold and dry storage buildings survived the fire, but all of its meat product was destroyed, as were two of the businesses three trucks. He said Meatland has had to cancel all of its meat orders and suspend its meat delivery routes. He said there is no way for the company to resume operation in a temporary location, and the company’s complex meat processing equipment, some of it made in foreign countries, would take months to restore if Meatland receives a sufficient insurance payout to rebuild the business.
“I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen, that’s the worst part of it right now. When and if we come back, we don’t want to do anything half-assed. We’re basically starting from the ground up. There’s a lot more than just getting a check and rebuilding,” he said.
A gofundme.com page has been started by Katie Kosowicz Bolibaugh of Broadalbin to help Meatland’s 15 employees, who are now all out of work as the Kisielis considers the future of the firm.
“If you’ve ever been to Broadalbin or you’ve simply just driven through, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Meatland, a Broadalbin staple for more than 40 years,” Bolibaugh writes in the introduction to the fundraising page. “Bernie and Lorraine Kisielis created the legacy that they handed down to their three sons, Kevin, Paul and John who have worked tirelessly to carry on the tradition of quality and top notch service to the community their parents started all those years ago.”
As of Wednesday night the “Help our Meatland of Broadalbin Family Employees” gofundme page has raised $1,995 of a $5,000 goal from 25 people.
“We’re very fortunate that we have a lot of very loyal customers, and a lot of customers who have turned into friends over the years,” Kevin Kisielis said.
He said the family is still in shock. He said the family has prospered enough from the company that the brothers could retire if reopening is not possible, but they still have hope that they can reopen.