CINCINNATI — When Ryan Lillis opens LK butcher shop Saturday morning at Findlay Market, he'll be continuing a family legacy that spans six generations.
Lillis's great-great-grandfather, Ernie Eckerlin, opened the first Eckerlin Meats in 1885 after immigrating to Cincinnati from Germany. Lillis's uncle, Bob Lillis, still owns and operates Eckerlin Meats at Findlay Market.
“So you can blame this on genetics,” Lillis said.
LK will open at 8 a.m. Saturday in the spot once occupied by Kroeger & Sons Choice Meats. Lillis obtained the space after Kroeger & Sons' former proprietor, Matt Gannaway died last June.
"We’re not going to stray too far from what they did,” Lillis said. "We’re using high quality, fresh pork. We cut everything here. We grind everything here. We hand-stuff all the different sausages."
However, he does plan to try creating a few new meat items by using LK's smokehouse.
Joining Lillis in his new business venture is John Knodel, the K of LK. Knodel operated Buzz Coffee in Clifton from 1996-2004 and now owns an online consulting company.
“Ryan and I got to become friends over the last 20 years when he worked at Eckerlin's,” Knodel said. "We actually threw a party every year called Pork-of-July."
When Lillis saw the chance to open his own butcher shop, he asked for Knodel's help and small business expertise. Knodel said he didn't think twice.
"When you get to know somebody in a small business, then you build a different relationship to that business," Knodel said.
Neither man is too worried about opening a new shop in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. They started work on their shop in January before the pandemic really hit, Knodel said.
Lillis has a little longer view of things when it comes to LK and Findlay Market.
"If you think about Findlay Market in general, it’s been around since the mid-1850s, right?" he said. "It survived the Spanish Flu. It survived the Great Depression. Businesses here have been around that long. We'll be fine.”
For more information about LK, visit www.lkfindlaymarket.com.