Welcome to his Man Cave
July 16, 2015
Man Cave founder Nick Beste’s official title is president and chief instigator.
Led by their sense of smell perhaps, two boys were drawn to the aisle at a Minneapolis-area grocery store where Nick Beste was cooking up meat products for shoppers to sample. When one boy realized it was Man Cave Craft Meats that Beste was preparing, he perked up, his eyes wide with excitement.
“Have you ever had this?” he asked his friend. “It’s Man Cave, and it’s really good. My mom only buys it once in a while because it’s not cheap, but I love it.”
Beste, the founder of Golden Valley, Minn.-based Man Cave Craft Meats, could only smile.
“That’s exactly how we want to be perceived,” Beste says. “We want to be viewed as the best brand in the meat case.”
Beste is on a mission to bring “obsessively crafted” meat and poultry products to grocery stores across the country. He began Man Cave Craft Meats with the premise that people will pay more for better products, much like they do for craft beer and artisan ice cream.
“It’s about making products that are jaw-dropping good,” Beste says.
Beste takes the word “craft” seriously. He knows it’s a buzzword and says that bigger meat and poultry companies are trying to capitalize on the buzz by using the term loosely in marketing and packaging verbiage. “Craft” is about products that feel “new, fresh and different,” and can be easily distinguished from the competition, Beste states.
Man Cave Craft Meats wants to disrupt the meat case with eye-catching packaging.
Indeed, Man Cave’s products have those attributes. Consider their flavor profiles, such as the newly debuted Argentinian BBQ Pork Chops, Spicy Thai Chicken Breasts, Roasted Garlic Turkey Burgers and Jalapeno & Cheddar Turkey Burgers to go with Buffalo-Style Angus Beef Patties with Blue Cheese, Pizza-Flavored Mini Bratwurst and Bacon, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sausage. “The plainest product we have is our Bacon, Beer & Cheddar Pork Bratwurst,” Beste says.
With its packaging, Beste says Man Cave aims to be “disruptive” in the meat case. Consider the company’s new in-your-face but not-over-the-top packaging, featuring a photo of a burly, bearded and tattooed man (one tattoo reads “In Meat We Trust”) with arms crossed and the Man Cave Craft Meats logo emblazoned on the chest of his apron. The packaging will stop consumers in their tracks.
The Man Cave is getting crowded, so to speak. By the end of the summer, Man Cave’s products will be in 1,100 stores in nine states – Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin – including some big-name grocers, such as Jewel-Osco in the Chicago market, Hy-Vee and Fareway Stores in Iowa; Price Chopper in Kansas City; Dierbergs in St. Louis; Niemann’s in Illinois; and Kowalski’s Markets, Coborn’s, Super One Foods and Lunds & Byerlys in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market. Last year, Man Cave’s products were sold in 225 stores.
The dawn of Man Cave
Beste’s official title is president and chief instigator. He oversees 15 employees, all in their 20s. The 28-year-old Beste has a degree in entrepreneurship from the Univ. of Minnesota. He began Man Cave during his junior year … at 20 years old. The company incorporated in 2008.
But Man Cave isn’t the company now that it was when Beste started it. At that time, Man Cave had little to do with meat. The business focused on home parties for men – called “Meatings” – which were modeled after Pampered Chef parties for women, except that barbecue tools and bar ware were sold. Beste recruited nearly 1,500 representatives across the country to hold the Meatings. The representatives grilled generic meat products and served beer to entice men to buy the barbecue tools and bar ware.
Funny thing, Beste received reports from the company’s representatives that many men who attended the Meatings often raved about the meat products they were served, which were basically something they could purchase at any local supermarket. But it got Beste thinking: What if the company partnered with a processor to create a small line of meat products with the Man Cave label to serve at the Meatings?
Soon, Man Cave burgers and bratwursts were also being sold at the gatherings. After a few months, Beste noticed that 80 percent of the sales from the Meatings were from the meat products. That got him thinking even more. Beste believed there was room in the meat case for a premium brand. After researching the possibility, he decided to take the company in a different direction. He scrapped the Meatings and changed the name of the company to Man Cave Craft Meats, with the sole focus of developing a retail meat line.