At just 11 years old, Ryan Hummer began working in the family business.
His grandfather, then his father, owned Hummer’s Meats in Kline Plaza in Harrisburg, and it’s where Ryan learned the ins and outs of running a butcher shop.
“I would stay at my grandpa’s house on the weekends, then go to the market with him to work,” Hummer said. “I learned a long time ago from my grandpa and dad about customer service and quality.”
The extended Hummer family actually began feeding central Pennsylvania nearly a century ago, as the related Rudy family had a stand in the Broad Street Market, making Ryan a fifth-generation butcher. His father still runs Hummer’s operation in Mount Joy and at several area farmers markets.
The Harrisburg business eventually migrated to the Broad Street Market, becoming a fixture inside the brick building, as did Ryan himself.
“I have worked in this market for almost 18 years, and people have watched me grow up,” he said.
A year ago, he took ownership of this part of the multi-generational enterprise under the slightly adjusted moniker, RG Hummer Meats and Cheese.
Locally sourced products, including pork delivered fresh weekly from Lancaster County farms, set Hummer’s apart from many other meat vendors. They also sell graded beef and a large variety of cheeses, as well as prepared foods. Hummer’s makes its own chicken salad, ham salad and meatloaf, among other sandwich and dinner staples. You’ll also find local favorites like scrapple and chicken potpie.
“When customers come to the stand, not only are they going to get a good experience from the clerks, but they are going to get a quality product every time,” Hummer said.
Hummer’s is especially known for its hams, which are free of additives and preservatives and are smoked and sealed in their own juices. In the lead-up to Easter, hams can be ordered bone in or boneless, Hummer said. Lamb and veal options are also available, and Hummer himself prepares the boneless, netted turkeys.
“I bone it out, net it, cook it and slice it down,” he explained.
If a holiday has a food associated with it, Hummer’s can provide it, including corned beef and brisket for St. Patrick’s Day and prime rib, ham and turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hummer also honors customers’ requests for certain items.
Timishia Goodson, a Midtown Harrisburg resident, has been a Hummer’s customer for about 10 years, long before she opened her bakery, Raising the Bar, inside the market’s stone building.
Goodson shops weekly at Hummer’s, choosing from a wide array of meats, cheeses and house-made prepared foods that line the long, refrigerated cases. The chicken, the sausages, the salads—they’re all excellent, she said. The sliced prime rib is her “go-to” to top off crostini for parties.
“They have a very large selection, and it’s all super-fresh,” she said.
Then Goodson mentioned a particular favorite, the brisket burger, which got the ear of her Raising the Bar partner and fellow baker, Casey Callahan.
“Everybody loves them!” Callahan exclaimed.
Callahan then told the story of how she got her mother to break a lifelong supermarket habit and begin to buy her meat at Hummer’s instead.
“The prices are similar, and the quality is much higher,” she said.
But it’s not just the product that draws people to Hummer’s. It’s also the service—the friendly, smiling guy behind the counter and his eager-to-please team.
“They’re very polite and extremely helpful,” Goodson said. “Great people.”
For Ryan Hummer, that sentiment goes both ways. He is deeply grateful for the community that has supported him and his family for so many years. He is involved in numerous community activities and donates to events whenever possible.
In fact, to Hummer, the Broad Street Market is itself a type of family, a place where he grew up and where, each week, he gets to serve and chat with the people he’s known for years.
“They have embraced me, and I always try to pay it forward,” he said. “Where else do you have a community atmosphere at the center of a city?
RG Hummer Meats and Cheese is located inside the brick building of the Broad Street Market in Harrisburg. For more information, visit www.broadstreetmarket.com or the RG Hummer Facebook page.