Our Origin Story
In a market where consumers are wading through labels — organic, pasture-fed, natural, cage free — and trying to learn which means what, 1907 Meat Co. is helping people across Oklahoma understand where their meat comes from.
“We tell the truth,” said Adam Gribben, owner and operator of 1907 Meat Co. “That was something I really wanted to harp on — the authenticity and transparency. There are so many standards out there and there are different levels of skepticism, depending on the label you’re looking at. It’s a bombardment of different terms, and the consumer just wants to know what’s good to eat, what’s good to feed their families.”
1907 Meat Co. sources humanely raised, pasture-fed animals from local farmers and ranchers — everything that goes through the store is born and raised in the great state of Oklahoma, and if it's not, we will let you know.
Adam has a background in electrical engineering and worked for several years in Dallas, but loves Stillwater and said he wanted to do something to help the local community.
“I was looking for a reason to move back to Stillwater,” he said. “I thought, ‘What does Stillwater need?’ I was looking for a business idea that would work in Stillwater.”
Stillwater has an agricultural powerhouse — Oklahoma State University — and plenty of local farmers and ranchers, but Adam noticed there was a lack of local products readily accessible to the public.
The idea to open a butcher shop kept coming back to mind, and Adam began putting a plan together.
“I couldn’t really find a reason why it wouldn’t work here,” he said, and began researching butcher shops across the country. “Their prices aren’t out of line and they’re sourcing what people are demanding. People want to know where their food comes from, what’s in it, or at least what’s not in it.”
Adam began working with local farmers to figure out a product stream and started coordinating with the University of Oklahoma to provide meat for the university’s Real Food Challenge commitment, which became a huge stepping stone toward the end goal.
A year later, 1907 Meat Co. opened its doors at 919 S. Main in Stillwater to offer fresh, locally sourced, humanely raised, premium cuts of beef, pork and chicken, and added lamb in November.
1907 Meat Co. operates with USDA- or state-inspected slaughter houses in Oklahoma, and a staff of professionally trained butchers process the meat in-house to provide the freshest product possible, from steaks to chicken breast to sausages.
The crew at 1907 Meat Co. strives to operate a low-waste company, so meat in the butcher’s case rotates to the professional chef to become biscuits and sausage-bacon gravy, breakfast sandwiches or burritos, chicken fried steak, meatloaf or Cuban sandwiches and more for breakfast, lunch and brunch in the front-of-house restaurant.
The butchers strive to use all parts of the animal, so tongue, liver, heart, ox tail, suet, lard and more are available. They also smoke leftover beef bones for customers to take home to their four-legged companions.
The company’s skilled butchers keep a variety of cuts of meat on hand, and can offer custom cuts or sausage blends on request.
In addition to providing a premium quality product, 1907 Meat Co. strives to help area agriculture stakeholders.
“Know your food, know your farmer,” Adam said. “Or if you don’t know your farmer, know your butcher.”
ADAM GRIBBEN, founder & CEo
Adam is an electrical engineer by trade, and worked for years with a cell tower inspection company out of Dallas.
“I was flying a lot for my job, and I would read on the plane,” he said.
One day, he picked up a couple of books about modern meat production, and he decided to do something different.
Adam’s heart stayed in Stillwater after he moved to Texas, and he came back to Orange Country as often as he could to ride bicycles with like-minded people who love the community.
Finally, he decided to stop commuting and make the move back to Stillwater. Talking and dreaming became planning and building, and 1907 Meat Co. opened in October.
1907 Meat Co. was founded on authenticity and transparency, Adam said.
“There are so many standards out there and there are different levels of skepticism out there, depending on the label you’re looking at – organic, pasture fed, natural, cage free,” he said. “It’s a bombardment of different terms, and the consumer just wants to know what’s good to eat, what’s good to feed their families.
“We tell the truth. You know where it comes from, what’s in it, or what’s not in it, because there’s nothing in it. It’s meat from an animal that was raised on a farm that you can go visit.”
Matt Buechele, executive chef
Matt came to 1907 Meat Co. after six years cooking in farm-to-table restaurants in Tulsa and Kansas City, including The Farmhouse, Bluestem, Jasper’s Italian Restaurant, and most recently worked as the sous chef at the Tallgrass Prairie Table.
Matt graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in 2011, and has worked in restaurants since he was 14, cooking his way to the top.
Matt said wherever he works, he wants to bring more local food to the table through relationships with farmers and ranchers, and that passion brought him to 1907 Meat Co.
“I like the farm-to-table idea of working with local farmers,” he said. “I’ve done it with vegetables, produce, milk and eggs, but I haven’t had a chance to do it with meat as much as I wanted to.”
There’s more to the farm-to-table concept than a transaction, Matt said.
"There are relationships behind every single phone call,” he said.
At 1907 Meat Co., Matt works with the butchers to rotate meat out of the butcher case through the kitchen to achieve two goals: to reduce waste and create a unique menu every day.
This business model not only helps 1907 Meat Co. to be a low-waste operation, but also serves to expose customers on new cuts of meat and menu items.
“I think the cool thing about 1907 Meat Co. is they are doing stuff that people aren’t doing,” he said. “The whole animal thing is not an easy concept. I don’t know if everyone realizes how different this is from everything else.
"Not a lot of places are willing to change the menu every day.”
chad smith, butcher
Chad has fond memories of growing up in a shop similar to 1907 Meat Co., and that’s part of what drew him to Adam’s business.
“I did some cleaning in my grandfather’s shop in Massachusetts when I was a child,” he said. “Family was always there working. My uncle was running the kitchen.”
Chad followed his grandfather’s steps to become a butcher after the family moved to Arizona, training at Sprouts Farmers Market under an Italian butcher.
“He saw something in me and took me under his wing and showed me how to cut meat, give good customer service, everything,” he said. “I didn’t know what to tell a client when they came in — how to cook this, the difference between this and that. He showed me everything.”
Chad came to Stillwater two years ago and worked at Ralph’s Packing Co. in Perkins.
Then he saw an article in the Stillwater NewsPress about 1907 Meat Co.
“Something in that article spoke to me,” he said. “Farm-to-table is exactly what I wanted to do. I came across people who didn’t know that ranchers live next door to you, or what they do on their farms, or how meat comes to your table."
1907 Meat Co. fills that educational void, he said.
"Something like this really puts a spotlight on that connection," he said. "You have ranchers’ pictures here in the store, you have them sitting here eating breakfast.
“It’s really great. Not only are you doing something that helps you and that you enjoy, but you’re also helping other people who are the heart of America, feeding America.”
CHRIS PETERS, TECHNOLOGIST
Chris joined the 1907 Meat Co. crew over a bicycle ride with founder Adam Gribben, talking about how modern technology can transform businesses.
Chris helped 1907 Meat Co. transcend a provincial era when butchers wrote orders on notepads and kept records on paper, to a modern business with electronic point-of-sale systems, records, scheduling, tasks, inventory and more.
Chris has more than a decade of retail experience, from working in Apple stores to the Student Union Bookstore at Oklahoma State University.
Chris said he appreciates Adam’s big-picture mission.
“We are trying to save the food chain,” he said. “Younger generations have gotten so far from the origin of our food. Our mission is to help save state agriculture. I really like the overall big picture we have here, rather than just being here to make money.”
Chrystal Forman-DeNoya, Operations Manager
Chrystal came to 1907 Meat Co. because her values aligned with their mission — knowing where food comes from and supporting local producers.
Originally from Ponca City, Chrystal came to Stillwater to get her accounting degree at Oklahoma State University, but after graduating and landing an accounting job, she realized it wasn’t what she had expected.
“I like people and interacting with people,” she said. “What I did there, I hardly ever talked to anybody.”
Chrystal has worked OSU as an academic adviser in engineering and found her true calling as president of the local Elks Lodge, where she managed lodge operations.
She began following 1907 Meat Co. after reading a couple of newspaper articles, and was excited as a potential customer.
“I saw a posting on Facebook about them hiring people and I sent in my resume, thinking they would never call me, but they did,” she said.
Now, Chrystal is in a place where she can put all her talents and skills to work — she gets to interact with customers on a daily basis and manages store and back office operations.
In a day and age when a lot of food Americans consume comes from overseas, Chrystal said 1907 Meat Co. is doing something to make a difference.
“I like what we are doing and the ethics about it,” she said. “I started learning about how much of our food is not made in the U.S., and it was sad to me. I like that we are supporting local farmers. I love the idea of knowing where your food comes from. I love to cook with good ingredients, and you don’t have to try real hard if you start with good stuff.”