Nathan L.

A shiny clean deli featuring everything from fried chicken and

sandwiches to chicken salad, pizza sticks and custom-made jerky is

attracting customers to Little Susie's Meat Market and Deli.

Little Susie refers to Susie Stout, whose family, including husband

Doug Stout, and his parents Del and Ann Stout, recently purchased

Reynolds Custom Meat Cutting in Baker City from Tim Reynolds.

"We purchased the meat business in May and have been doing a lot of

cleaning up, fixing up and repairing equipment," said Susie Stout.

The business is at 2970 H St.

While the core business remains focused on custom cutting and wrapping

of USDA-inspected beef, pork and lamb, as well as custom processing of

local ranch animals and wild game, Susie said hiring Oma Jane Davidson

to manage the new deli proved to be a good move.

Davidson previously worked for the Stout family as deli manager at

Wilson's Market in the 1990s, and as manager of the bowling alley.

She's also well known by folks in North Powder, where she worked as a waitress.

Davidson said the deli has been busy, with workers, business people, high school students and customers who she became acquainted with at her other deli and restaurant jobs stopping in for a quick take-out lunch or dinner.

"I see a lot of people coming in from various places I've worked," Davidson said. "I want the place to be shiny when people come in because it reflects on me.

"When local people or out-of-towners come in, we want them to be impressed with how clean it is, and how good the food is," Davidson said.

"We have fresh-made deli sandwiches. Customers get to choose the bread, meat, cheese and condiments," Susie said, adding that she's currently offering a lunch special that includes a free side salad with sandwich orders between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Chicken featured in the deli is called Little Susie's Chicken, which Susie said is marinated and double-dipped in seasoned batter.

"Our chicken is really popular, especially with the high school kids," Susie said.

Other fried deli foods include jo-jos, corn dogs, jalapeandntilde;o poppers and pizza sticks.

"We're trying things out to see what people like. We will be adding more things as to the deli as we go along," Susie said.

In the deli counter, customers will find a variety of meats, including turkey, roast beef and a popular Bavarian ham, several kinds of cheeses, salads and custom-made jerky, pepperoni, sausage and bacon.

"We just came out with two new jerky flavors," Susie said. One is maple flavored and one is jalapeandntilde;o taco flavored. Those new jerky flavors are in addition to the firm's traditional, barbecue and teriyaki flavored jerky.

Over the next several months, more remodeling work is planned in the deli, including the installation of custom-made cabinets and countertops being built by Doug Stout at his cabinet shop in Arizona.

Del Stout said the family decided to buy the meat market for the same reasons they purchased the bowling alley, which is less than a block to the east, a few years ago.

"We wanted to bring something back that had been neglected for many years, and bring it back the way it used to be," Del said.

Because Baker Valley is in the heart of hunting and ranching country, Del said the area needs a custom meat-cutting business.

"Everybody needs a place to process their animals," Del said. "This is the only place in town where people bring their own game animals."

He said custom butchering of game animals and custom butchered ranch animals that are not USDA inspected is done separately from butchering of prime choice USDA inspected beef, pork and lamb sold to the general public.

To help area 4-H youths and get the word out about the new ownership of the business, the Stouts purchased 4-H animals this summer at the Baker County Fair and at the Halfway Fair.

"We bought the grand champion sheep at Baker and we bought two animals at Halfway - one lamb and one pig," Del said.

Customers at Little Susie's Meat Market and Deli "know they are getting Grade A meat custom cut any way they want it. They tell us how they want it cut - 1 inch or 2 inches thick, and we cut it to suit them," Del said.

Del said the USDA prime and choice meat comes from a USDA-inspected processing plant in Idaho.

However, he said they also butcher a fair amount of beef, pork and lamb raised by area ranchers, which they raise and sell to friends and neighbors.

"We just process it for them," Del said, adding that in many cases two families go together to purchase a steer, pig or lamb from a rancher, then bring it in and have it butchered and packaged at Little Susie's.

The crew at Little Susie's also provide mobile slaughtering of livestock.

Currently the store hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, but Susie said she's hoping to expand the hours, possibly to include Saturdays, to better meet the needs of hunters and ranchers, as well as the meat market and deli customers.