Back when neighborhood resident Richard Andreason was a kid, he was eating a roast dinner at a friend’s house. When Richard took a bite, he looked at his friend’s mom and said, “You didn’t get this from my daddy.”
Was Richard Andreason a precocious child? Quite possibly, but he was also, even then, preparing to take part in the family business.
“They were raised to do that,” says Alice Bogie, the friend’s mom and someone who has known Richard’s family for more than three decades. Of the memory, she adds, “I just thought, ‘Well, if an 8-year-old can tell the difference, I’ll never get my meat anywhere but Rudolph’s.’”
That’s Rudolph’s Market and Sausage Factory she’s talking about, located in the same Deep Ellum location since 1895. Richard’s grandfather, Sid Pokladnik, came to the United States from Czechoslovakia in the 1920s and started working for his uncle at Rudolph’s. In the ’40s, he bought the place.
Today, 108 years after it began, little has changed at the old-fashioned meat market and, despite the Kroger’s and Tom Thumbs of the world, it’s still quite popular among residents of our neighborhood and beyond. That’s thanks in no small part to the efforts of Richard and six other members of the Andreason family, including dad David and mom Justine (both of whom are semi-retired), brothers Brandon and Neal, and sisters Keri Jones and Tara Cloutman.
“It’s a shock to me,” says Justine of her children’s decision to stay in the family business. “With five children, you figure a couple of them will be involved on some level, but to have all of them involved in some way is something that surprised me. They were always free to explore whatever else they wanted to do in life, so for them to come back to the shop to continue on with all this … it’s very gratifying.”
Jones, however, says she’s not surprised by her and her siblings’ desire to return to the family fold.
“In college, I got my degree in advertising and afterward, I thought, ‘Where do I want to go? I really want to help out my family business,” she says. “There’s history here that is so neat. It doesn’t surprise me that everybody wants to be a part of it. People come from all over Texas to shop at our store.”
It’s those loyal customers, and particularly neighborhood customers, who have also helped Rudolph’s maintain a thriving business all these years.
“I think part of the success of Rudolph’s is that people tend to stay. In other words, at the first sign of trouble, they’re not out of here, in Addison somewhere … no offense to Addison,” Justine says. “East Dallas has a resiliency about it, and people just don’t like leaving. In 2002, in Dallas, in any neighborhood, that’s hard to say. They really like being here, coming home here.
“And that’s true for businesses, too. They survive because they know they’re customers. These are not just nameless, faceless people. These are your neighbors, your friends.”
Indeed, just about any longtime Rudolph’s customer will tell you the Andreason family is not just their local, well-trusted butcher; they’re also friends.
“We like to do business with people we know and who are friends of ours,” says Jolene Hill, who has been going to Rudolph’s for 25 years. “Their children are the same ages as our children. Our daughters are best friends.”
“We’ve known the family for a long, long time,” Bogie says, “and they’re delightful. Their oldest and my son have been friends since they were three years old. And Brandon and my son were roommates.”
But is that the only reason they shop at Rudolph’s?
“The thing I really love is not only is the meat good, but they can special order stuff for you and cut the meat the way you want it done. You can’t get that down at a grocery store. Even at Central Market, they’ll kind of look askance at you if you ask,” Bogie says.
That quality — of service and product — goes back to tradition.
“I think in my eyes, it’s really stayed the same. It’s amazing,” Jones says. “Sure, we’ve had to change some things — shoot we just got a computer a few years ago. We’re not in the 1800s, but the way we do our sausage, the way we hang our beef, that’s all stayed the same.”
“It’s come a long way from the cigar box my father kept money in,” Andreason says, “but I think it still boils down to personal service.”
Rudolph’s recently was recognized by the Dallas Historical Society as one of the city’s cornerstone businesses.
“It’s really nice to be honored,” Andreason says. “It’s been my whole life, and I’m sure most people in family business would say something very similar. I’m very proud of all the contributions that my parents made, and the hard work it takes to keep a place like that running, and the loyalty of my employees and family.”
What does the future hold for Rudolph’s? Well, Jones says the family may open a North Dallas store. And Andreason waits, with a hint of humor, for the day when the next generation takes over.
“I have seven grandchildren now, and that’s only from two of my kids. I could have 50 grandkids, God knows, so I guess they’ll have to fight that out.”
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