Hoyt’s, landmark meat and seafood store, reopening

alopez@macon.comOctober 23, 2013 

The owner of Hoyt’s Market is resurrecting the popular Macon business that closed in May 2012.

“As soon as I locked up, I missed it,” Steve Spradley said Wednesday. “I missed the customers. I missed the type of work.”

Spradley said his customers missed him, too.

“Everywhere I go,” he said, “If I’m out at the movies or out to eat, or out shopping anywhere somebody stops me and asks me when I am coming back.”

Lucious Hawthorne has been working at Bike Tech, across the street from Hoyt’s, for about 30 years. Hawthorne was a regular customer at Hoyt’s for at least two decades.

“You can’t get the same quality meat at other places,” he said.

Spradley said he has been thinking about reopening for months and has set Nov. 1 as the reopening date at the market at 3016 Vineville Ave.

He had to start from scratch to restart the business that specialized in high-quality meats and seafood, he said, because he sold off his old equipment. He has been working this past month buying meat coolers and freezers, and lining up vendors.

Spradley took over the store more than two decades ago from Hoyt Braswell, who operated it for the previous quarter-decade.

“It’s not a real fancy, up-to-date supermarket,” Spradley said. “It’s like stepping back in time to an old-fashioned, simpler operation.”

“People like that,” he said. “I call a lot of them by name because they are regular customers. It’s like going into ‘Cheers.’ ”

Spradley knows Macon has changed since he first took over Hoyt’s. People are more health-conscious now, so he adapted by selling more fish such as grouper and salmon.

The demographics also have changed.

“We’ve seen more people move a little further out, getting out to the suburbs,” he said. “People have to drive a little further to get to us, but we’ve had some loyal people we hope will continue to do that.”

Spradley also knows he can’t always compete with the chain supermarkets on price, “but we have a different product,” he said.

He gets all his meat from the Midwest he said, and Greeley, Colo., is one of his favorite sources.

“I’ve been in the meat business since 1974,” he said. “I know a lot about meat quality, grade, selection, what to buy, when to buy it, and what to do with it when I get it. That’s how we’ve been able to stay competitive.”

Danny Smith, a Macon resident, said he went to chain supermarkets in the year Hoyt’s was closed but found his orders were not always correctly filled.

“Steve accommodates special orders and gets personal preferences right,” Smith said. “Each person has their own preference of how they want their meat cut.”

During his time away from Hoyt’s, Spradley said, he enjoyed some rounds of golf and extra time with his family and friends.

But now he is ready to get back to his 10-hour workdays at Hoyt’s, which he plans to keep open Tuesday through Saturday.

“For 22 years we’ve appreciated everybody that came in the door,” he said. “Our customers kept us open, and we look forward to serving them again.”

To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 477-4382.

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