“You Can Get Anything You Want.”
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Located 1,361 miles from Wall Drug (that goofy roadside attraction in Wall, South Dakota), Lighthouse Point Grocery, on Route 394 outside of Mayville, specializes in meat, seafood, and submarine sandwiches. It is famous for its rotisserie chicken.
According to Norm Smith, who has owned the Lighthouse for the past eight years, during the summer season he sells 60 chickens a day – a hundred on Saturdays and Sundays. The sign that states the distance to Wall Drug has hung behind the counter for a long time, but according to Norm, the Bevador cooler has been in the store forever.
“People come here who haven’t been in the store for 50 years, and they remember that old cooler.” It still works to keep cans of soda and bottles of water cold.
Even early in the morning, before the chicken goes in the rotisserie, good smells permeate the air.
“You probably smell the chili spices,” Norm said. But the smell of baking bread was in the air too. “Banana bread and zucchini bread are our signature baked items. We still use Bob Barnes’ mother’s recipe. Bob owned the place for forty years before I did. I worked for Bob for 20 years before I bought the place.”
The original building is old and was a depot on the trolley line when trolleys circled the lake and a lighthouse stood on Lighthouse Point. Now it’s a small but full-service grocery store that carries brand name canned goods, produce, deli, dairy and quality meat. During the season, customers are wise to call ahead to reserve a copy of the New York Times or a rotisserie chicken for dinner.
“About sixty percent of our business comes out of the meat department,” Norm said. A few cuts of steak, pork and chicken are on display in the main cooler, but people know to just come in and ask for what they want.
“We have it,” says Norm, “and if we don’t, we’ll get it. We carry beef, lamb, chicken and pork. Oysters are coming in tomorrow. And in the summer, we’re the only one in the county that carries swingin’ beef.”
“Swinging beef” refers to beef that is dry-aged. Dry-aging takes time but results in the kind of quality beef that is served in high-end steakhouses and restaurants.
Uncooked chicken is available whole or cut to order. The chicken is fresh and contains no additional water, so it browns nicely and tastes the way chicken is supposed to taste according to Norm.
A brisk and loyal lunch crowd stops at the Lighthouse for subs, and for hot soup, sandwiches and other specials that run every weekday. Norm says they get the lunches out fast even though they use homemade ingredients.
The Lighthouse just purchased a smoker and plans to carry a full line of smoked meats. They’ll smoke their own pork chops and turkeys and will make and smoke sausage and snack sticks, too.
Like a lot of retail businesses on Chautauqua Lake, the seasons can create wide fluctuations in demand. The Lighthouse is busy with locals, summer visitors and Chautaquans from late spring through Christmas. Contractors pack the place leading up to the Chautauqua season, stopping in for lunch while they finish up projects at the Chautauqua Institution before the summer construction ban starts.
During the fall and winter, the Lighthouse processes deer for hunters. Another sign behind the counter, this one lighted, ticks off the number of deer butchered during the season. The average is about 700 a year.
Norm is a busy man, but he can multi-task. People who talk with him for a few minutes say they soon feel like an old friend. He connects with sophisticated cooks who want fresh seafood or dry-aged beef for a special meal, with guys in camouflage looking to stock their freezer with venison, with the average grocery shopper and with the person who just ordered the turkey sub with American cheese and Miracle Whip. Was that you?
The Jamestown Gazette is proud to recognize our dealers, outstanding corporate citizens of our county. This week, the Gazette especially thanks Lighthouse Point for the faithfully carrying The Jamestown Gazette, The People’s Paper, for the benefit of their customers, our readers.