Since Nolan Ryan retired from Major League Baseball in 1993, he has dedicated more time to his first and lifelong passion as a cattle rancher and beef producer. He launched his own line of beef about 20 years ago and the Nolan Ryan Beef brand has been extended and grown ever since.
The Hall of Fame pitcher’s latest venture, a brick-and-mortar butcher shop, opened for business June 26. Goodstock by Nolan Ryan is an 1,800-square-foot, full-service “boutique” retail shop, based in central Texas. Billed as a destination store in a busy retail and entertainment district, Goodstock’s fresh meat case is the centerpiece of the store, where a beef-industry trained meat cutter stands ready to educate and serve customers. The store features Ryan’s new product lines of fresh beef produced in Texas as well as cooking accessories, ingredients, Texas-themed food products, grilling accessories, pellet-fed smokers and many products for the home. Two new Goodstock lines of premium beef will be available to customers at the store in addition to pork products, value-added meats and specialty products.
Lone Star linked
Cody Marburger, chief operating officer for Nolan Ryan Brands, the parent company behind Nolan Ryan Beef, said plans for the Round Rock, Texas-based store have been in the works since late 2019, nearly 20 years since Ryan and his rancher-partners founded the company. Through the years, Nolan Ryan Beef brands have become mainstays in retail meat departments across Texas, including Kroger stores, and on foodservice menus, including Longhorn Steakhouse’s, throughout the state. Since its founding, the company has been focused on promoting Texas culture and cattle production and ranching is synonymous with the state’s history.
“The parent company is all about sharing and celebrating Texas hospitality,” Marburger said. “So, launching the Goodstock brand and retail store we felt was the next step in our journey. We really aim to build on the successes and things that we’ve enjoyed over the past couple of decades with the Nolan Ryan Beef brand.”
As part of the launch of the company’s Goodstock brand, Marburger said goals include creating unique opportunities to offer customers custom products that promote the state’s culture, including its food and hospitality. The retail store gives the company a location to offer specialty beef items such as Wagyu and grass-fed cuts in the meat case with complementary products throughout the rest of the store. Spices, seasoning rubs and even a pellet-fed, Goodstock branded smoker are all parts of the store’s offerings.
“We’re trying to create an overall meat-enthusiast experience,” he said.
Part of that experience includes the opportunity to communicate directly, face-to-face with the brand’s consumers, which provides insight that previously wasn’t possible.
“We all decided the brand exists to inspire authentic flavor and experiences in an inviting atmosphere with family and friends,” Marburger said.
Products available at the store will initially be available only to customers visiting in person but beginning in August an e-commerce platform will facilitate online purchases across the country. The new Goodstock brand of beef will also become available to Nolan Ryan Beef’s foodservice customers as well. Customization of the brand’s US Department of Agriculture-certified tender, Choice-graded cuts will allow foodservice customers to tailor products in terms of aging specifications and choosing from packaging formats to meet the requirements of a variety of restaurant concepts.
“We recognize a lot of the different partners have different needs and this brand and some of the things that we’ve done on the back end of it from a supply side is really trying to cater to those specific needs,” Marburger said.
In the case
When the store opened its doors the full-service meat case was manned by Hayden Blumberg, an industry-trained meat cutter with an animal science degree. He chatted up scores of carnivorous customers salivating over a dozen rows of mostly USDA Choice and Prime beef cuts as well as ground beef and patties. On any given day, the choices will be abundant, Marburger said.
“There’ll be some kabobs; we’ll have sirloins, T-bones, various forms of ribeyes like tomahawk, a cowboy ribeye, boneless ribeye; we’ll have boneless strips. On the Prime side, it’ll include ribeyes and strips,” he said, adding that initially the store will offer Wagyu-sourced beef to assess customer demand for premium cuts as well as grass-fed beef in the future.
Marburger didn’t specify which processors the store sources its products from other than to say, they too, are part of Nolan Ryan Beef’s network of Texas-centric partners.
The store’s self-serve case will cater to grab-and-go customers shopping for other products such as pork ribs, pork loins as well as Prime beef briskets, smoked hot dogs and sausages and pre-cut, vacuum-packed steaks.
Selecting from the variety of products is something that the Nolan Ryan Beef team wanted to ensure would be an enjoyable and educational experience at Goodstock. The Hall of Famer said the customer experience at his new store is designed to be engaging.
“I’m excited about the butcher shop because it’s an opportunity for us to educate our guests on selection, preparation and grilling of our beef,” Ryan said. “We want people to have the best eating experience possible so after they bring home a great cut of beef, they’ll know how to make it to their liking. There’s a lot of opportunity there.
“For me, getting family around the table is just about the best way I can spend my time. And I think it’s like that for other folks too. So, opening the butcher shop is our way of helping others make those moments even more special.”
Starting with a staff of three at the store, Marburger said identifying the right people, with a passion for Texas culture and a passion for food and all-star customer service was critical. That included the store’s manager, Forrest Homerding.
“We went through a pretty extensive interview process of trying to find the right store manager,” Marburger said. “Culture is a really big and important thing to us here and finding somebody who fit our culture and someone that we felt just had that eagerness and energetic personality.”
Homerding fit the bill and partnering him with Blumberg, the meat cutter, is a match that Marburger hopes will build a following at the store.
“We tried to find folks who have been exposed to the type of educational opportunities that we hope to be able to share with our consumers,” he said. “Hopefully we’re getting repeat business to where our butcher and our store manager know these people on a first-name basis and can ask them how that ribeye was that they bought last week or offer them tips for their next party.”
The location of the store was also carefully chosen by the Nolan Ryan Beef team. It was no accident that the store is located near key Round Rock attractions, including Dell Diamond stadium, home field for the Houston Astros’ AAA affiliate baseball team and a soon-to-open new Kalahari Hotel-Convention Center and Indoor Waterpark. The store is also just next door to the headquarters for Nolan Ryan Brands.
Marburger said what makes the store a destination location includes all the components of the products, the people and the surrounding area.
“Having the opportunity to share and creating those experiences with our customers is ultimately what led us to this new venture,” he said. “We can’t wait to get started.”