Kenny Riley’s path to Downtown Dickson business owner began with bagging groceries.
Riley, 34, started at the bottom as a Kroger employee in Dickson. Nearly 18 years later, he had moved into the meat department, advanced to meat manager at the Brentwood store, and eventually managed two different Krogers.
But for at least three of those years Riley was missing “passion” in his job.
“It’s an art, is what it is,” said Riley, describing the skills of a meatcutter. “I missed it. I went into management to see how I liked that. It wasn’t my thing.”
This summer, he and wife Amanda opened Riley’s Meat Market, just off Main Street. It’s an idea they had discussed for years. With a family to consider — McKenna and Emma, both 15, and 6-year-old Parker — the Rileys cautiously began exploring their options.
Originally, they approached a bank about taking out a loan. But the numbers didn’t quite work in the Rileys’ favor.
Once the real estate market started to heat up, they decided to go for it.
We decided to sell our house,” Riley said. “We’ve put everything we got from selling our house into this business.”
“It’s paid off. It really has,” he added. “We don’t owe anybody anything. That’s the best part about it.”
Cuts of meat
Riley said he learned from two men who had been cutting meat for decades at Kroger.
Larry Gilbert, who started in the meat department in 1969, and Steven Thomas, who started in the early 1980s.
Riley said they had “seen it all, done it all.”
“I failed a few times but I learned from that. They showed me how to do it right, and something clicked. I love it,” Riley said.
Riley purchases their grass-fed, black angus beef from Joel’s Farm in Bon Aqua and the grain-fed meat from KLD farms, near the Cheatham-Dickson county border. Riley’s Meat Market uses a seafood distributor who works directly with the fishermen.
“We see what we can get, the freshest we can get it,” Riley said.
In addition to meat, the store sells some regional sauces and honey made by White Bluff couple Tony and Chelsea Vargas. They also have Riley’s Meat Market shirts, adjourned with the design they crafted working alongside Allegra in Dickson.
Customers have commented on the meat pricing being competitive with local grocers.
“A lot of people tell me I shouldn’t be as low (on prices) as I am. But I just want to be fair,” Riley said. “I am not in this business to be a millionaire. I just want to pay the bills, pay the associates, keep the doors open, and live comfortably.”
(Customers) are loving how they can come in and get exactly what they want and how they want it cut,” Riley added. “Everyone keeps telling us how they have wanted this for so long.”
Riley’s Meat Market
202 N. Mulberry St
Dickson, TN 37055
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: New Dickson meat market owners ‘put everything’ into starting business