Epema growing retail operation, looks to cater, increase lunch offerings.

    Asked what he has planned for a 1,300 square foot addition currently being built onto his south-end business, B & E Meats, Brent Epema struggles somewhat to come up with a concise answer.

    "It's kind of hard to explain; it's just going to be total retail," he said. "New coolers...we're expanding everything. It's going to be more of a one-stop shop. We'll have milk, breads, cheeses, a wider selection of meats...all kinds of stuff. Spices, condiments, barbecue sauces. Just more of a complete store."

    Epema said the decision to expand has been spurred by the growth of his customer base. His clientele in the past year or so has about doubled, he said.
    "More choices for our customers is what this basically comes down to," he told the Times Wednesday.

    As part of the expansion, which he hopes will be complete by mid- to late summer, B & E Meats is expanding its lunch operation, too, which has carved out a nice little niche in its industrial park location among the hundreds of employees who work at Crookston's major manufacturers.

    "We'll be expanding our catering; we're looking at doing a bagged lunch kind of thing, with offerings like a three-meat sandwich, chips, cookie and beverage that's quick, easy, convenient and healthy," Epema explained. "We're trying to offer another option for the manufacturing workers who only get a half-hour lunch. We want to offer them something really good, but quick."

    DeBoer Builders of Crookston is the general contractor.