Start with the basics, said Bud Brine, the original owner of Brine’s Meat Market and Restaurant in Stillwater: “If they love the ground beef, they’ll come back for the steak.”
A family-owned and -operated business, Brine’s got its start in 1958 in downtown Stillwater. Fifty-seven years later, the business has grown and continues to thrive under the watchful eyes of Bud’s sons, Mark and Jerry Brine.
“I started in the business when I was 12 years old,” Mark Brine says. “We all worked there for Dad.” Now heading into his 40th year as a butcher for the market, Mark recalls the major events, both good and bad, that helped Brine’s grow.
In 1974, Brine’s relocated from its original downtown space to an old hardware building that had been standing since 1880. At that time, the butcher shop started to expand into the bar/restaurant business. But tragedy struck in 1982 when a fire destroyed the building.
“The roof caved in, and some firefighters lost their lives that day,” Mark says. But from the ashes came a chance to expand; with the building’s interior a total loss, it was time for the Brines to regroup and remodel. The three-floor building became a banquet hall on the top level, a restaurant on the second floor and a bar on the first.
In 1991, Stillwater’s economy saw an upswing, with growth in the number of patrons eating, shopping and enjoying the downtown atmosphere. The restaurant, which serves sandwiches, burgers, breakfast and more, was in a great location to take advantage of the resurgence. Wanting to keep the butcher business going, the Brines opened their market/deli/catering services in a second location on Washington Avenue, where it is still located today.
“It has been great to see how far we’ve come,” Mark says. “We like to say that we’ve seen it all—fires, floods and franchises.”
The children of Bud Brine are still hard at work keeping the family business going. Mark works out of the market/deli/catering building doing all of the butchering and purchase orders, while his sister Polly Hoy is the head baker. Mark’s older brother Matt is now retired, and his brother Jerry operates the restaurant and bar downtown.
“It’s great to have this business,” Mark says. “Even the nieces, nephews and grandkids have had jobs here during the summer months or coming back from college. It truly stays within the family.”
Brine’s continues to build on its legacy by offering excellent counter service and great product—and that all-important ground beef. “I come in and grind our beef at least once a day,” Mark says. “If that isn’t perfect or doesn’t taste just right, you’ll know. We still start with the basics.”
Six customer favorites at Brine’s Market/Deli/Catering in Stillwater.
- Bacon Cheddar Bratwrst
- Salsa Bratwurst
- Bleu Cheese Bratwurst
- Sauerkraut and Onion Bratwurst
- Chili Cheddar Bratwurst
- Cured Pastrami