Mike's Butcher Shop started out in a small building near Thompson Avenue and South Robert Street in West St Paul. It operated under a different name until Mike Quast bought the business in 1986 and renamed it Mike's Butcher Shop. Looking to expand, Mike moved his shop to the corner of Butler and South Robert Street in West St Paul in 1994 where it currently stands.
While looking to retire and sell his business, he sadly became ill and passed away on January 1, 2015. Later that year, Leslie Carlson assumed ownership of Mike's Butcher Shop in September and is the current owner.
Leslie Carlson grew up in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro after spending her early childhood in North Dakota. Her dad traveled throughout the United States for his job, and she remembers him coming home with “exotic” recipes for her mom to prepare. (One recipe included manicotti after traveling to Pennsylvania. Really exotic...) Back in the day, there just wasn't the diversity of recipes or ingredients we take for granted today. This sparked an early interest in food before the term “foodie” was coined.
Leslie brings a varied background of experience to Mike's Butcher Shop. She is a graduate of Minnesota State Mankato with majors in Microbiology and Secondary Life Science Education and a minor in Chemistry. She also holds a Master of Science in Management. Her work experience over the years has included everything from lab work with livestock feed to general management of company operations.
Currently, Leslie lives in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area and has four adult children, some of whom are actively involved in the family business.
Buying the Shop
I had wanted to own a business since high school but was encouraged to start out by finding a stable job. After a career path of small businesses to large corporations, I found myself back at a small family start-up business with the opportunity to learn all facets of running a business.
In the spring of 2012, my mother had a third recurrence of breast cancer. My father had already passed away in 1991. She had beat it twice before, but this time she was diagnosed as terminal. During her fight with cancer, I spent a lot of time with my mom until she passed away at the end of 2013. It gave me a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do after she passed.
I began reading books about starting or buying a business. Eventually, I started looking at various types of business listings. One of those listings happened to be Mike's Butcher Shop, a local business I recognized. Finally, I told my spouse that I wanted to buy a business and received the reply, "That sounds like something that might be good.”
I was really nervous to walk into the shop. What if it wasn't what I had built up in my head? I gained the courage to put a call into the business broker to see the business and meet the owner. I talked to Mike on the phone and we set up a tour. Unbeknownst to me, Mike Quast was very ill and had a stroke the night before I was to meet him. While I never met him in-person, I got to know the staff as they kept things going, and I worked with Mike's family to buy the butcher shop.
I wasn't a butcher, I wasn't a grocer. But I knew I could make Mike's Butcher Shop work. I might not have known where every cut of meat came from, but I sure could tell a customer how to cook anything that was in the case. I finally had the business I wanted since high school, and what's more, it was connected to the community where maybe I could make a small difference for the better.