Job Spotlight: Former police officer Lee Lathrop opens Butcher on the Block

Lee Lathrop spends his days working with sharp blades. When asked if he still had all of his fingers, the Columbus butcher laughed and answered yes.

"You play with knives you get nicked now and then, nothing major," he said.

The job is still much safer than his former profession as a police officer.

It was after "messing up" his leg in SWAT training that he began to learn the new trade that led to him opening Butcher on the Block seven months ago at The Landings on Whitesville Road.

"We have gotten a great response from the community. We have a regular customer base and those customers are our best advertising," Lathrop said.

Lathrop's father works for TSYS. That played a part in Lathrop moving here from Illinois with his wife, Julia, and three young children. Julia plays an active role in the business, making salads and casseroles.

Lathrop, who has held supervisory positions with large retail stores, learned the butcher business from a friend's father-in-law who owns a butcher shop in Illinois.

"The basics were not too difficult. I learned different cuts and how to make sausage," he said.

There are not many small butcher shops such as his anymore. He feels there are advantages to shopping at one rather than a large grocery store.

"We take time with our customers to discuss preparation. You can ask us questions. We'll cut your meat any way you wish," Lathrop said.

The shop features a variety of specialty items. You won't find wild boar meat just anywhere in town. How about a spinach and potato pie?

Lathrop talked with the Ledger-Enquirer about his work.

Have you found being a butcher enjoyable?

Yes. There is some creativity involved, and I like that.

How much meat do you cut?

A couple of hundred pounds per week.

You say that you have to discard some of the meat you have.

I have to keep the quality up so what is not fresh goes in the garbage.

You say you use Sterling Silver Premium Meats.

It is high quality. It is hand selected from the top 12 percent of all beef and is aged for 21 days to maximize tenderness.

What is most requested at the shop?

We sell a lot of beef tenderloins. Standing rib roast, too. People like the sausage we make right here.

Do you get some strange requests?

Not too often. Every now and then I'll get one for something like sheep's heart.

Can customers come in and eat a sandwich?

Yes. We have several good ones. We sell and use Boar's Head products. We also do a little bit of catering, deli platters and box lunches.

Do you have a favorite sandwich?

I like the Jerky Turkey, which has jerk turkey, three slices of applewood smoked bacon, havarti cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on sourdough bread.

What kind of items does Julia prepare?

Gourmet chicken salad and lasagna.

The store is not large, but you have a wide variety of items including desserts.

We do but we want to make sure we maintain our identity as a butcher shop.

When are you open?

We're here 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. We are closed on Sunday.