Ranch Foods Direct owner to buy warehouse near downtown

By Ned Hunter Published: December 16, 2013 | 6:40 pm 0

Mike Callicrate is working to buy a former warehouse building on South Wahsatch Avenue, with plans to turn it into a meat processing plant.

The building, at 522 S. Wahsatch Ave., was once used by The Gazette and is owned by TJ&TC, LLC, a group of four private investors who bought the property in May 2012 from another LLC that included former Freedom newspaper executives.

Callicrate hopes to close on the property later this week. In addition the processing plant, he wants to transform the two-story, 21,000-square-foot building into a meat-cutting school for culinary students.

"We will have a full carcass process facility and a meat-cutting school for maybe a college," he said.

Callicrate also plans to put 37 parking spaces in front of the building for use by downtown visitors. He hopes to put a former railroad cattle and dining car on the tracks behind the building to serve guests fresh cut beef.

Callicrate owns Ranch Foods Direct Co. and was a part owner of Ranch Steakhouse and Market until 2007. He was one of the driving forces in getting the Country of Origin Labeling clause written into the 2002 Farm Bill.

Ranch Foods Direct was launched in St. Francis, Kan., in 2002 as a sort of second front in a fight against big agri-business. The idea was to provide a non-industrially produced brand of meat that is tastier and more healthful to consumers while also providing another option for cattle ranchers looking to sell their stock.

"The most significant thing I do is Ranch Foods Direct," Callicrate said. "It impacts all my other businesses - producing cattle, the feed yards. Everything.

"Without a market I wouldn't be a cattle producer and Ranch Foods Direct is out there to be that alternative market for myself and other local producers and to show others it's possible to do that same sort of thing in their community."

Callicrate moved Ranch Foods Direct to Colorado Springs in 2003.

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Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275

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