Behind the small shop selling tomahawk steaks and tri-tip roasts in Littleton’s historic Coors Building is a large family business.
The 800-square-foot retail space is an extension of La Vaca Cattle Co. It’s a way to share what they do with the community, Dan May said.
“(The store) does give us the one-on-one with people and seeing what they want, as far as beef is concerned,” said May, principal of the 35-year-old, Colorado-based company.
Most of the beef in the shop comes from the business’s Elizabeth and Kiowa ranches. The grass-fed cattle are given corn with molasses and ground hay their last 150 to 200 days to get the marbling that prime grade beef is known for, May said. They’re then handpicked and butchered for the store.
Only 5% to 7% of beef raised in the U.S. meet the requirements for a prime rating, but everything sold at the corner of West Main and South Nevada streets makes the cut. The quality of the meat is similar to what’s served at restaurants like Shanahan’s, Del Frisco’s, Eddie V’s and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, May said. Retail customers can have “a white tablecloth experience” in their own homes.
“You have something that has enough marbling in it to give you the type of experience that you get at a five-star steakhouse,” May said.
The store also has an online presence where the beef runs from $7.99 to $55.99 per pound, depending on the cut. Orders can be picked up in person or shipped.
While the shop opened in 2013, La Vaca Cattle Co. has been in operation since 1987. It’s owned by May and his brothers, three of whom still live near the eastern Colorado town of Stratton, where the farm boys grew up. While the primary business is farming, ranching and cattle feeding, the Mays run 15 companies including ranches in Colorado, Nevada and Nebraska and a brokerage that trades agricultural commodities such as canola oil and wheat.
Dan May, his wife, their two sons and son-in-law Scott Cure work in the trading operation, which is also located in the Coors Building. It takes up about five times as much space as the store and employs 11 people.
In addition to trading, Cure has also been overseeing the retail shop. But those duties will soon be handed off to longtime family friend and recent employee Jerry Lundwall, May said.
The retail location is a good way “to show off the product — all the hard work that’s done behind the scenes,” Lundwall said.
Although the shop makes up less than 2% of what La Vaca does, May said they’re not really looking to expand it.
“We just want to do good business,” May said. “Have something that is … a good experience for Littleton. Give people that experience of what real good beef is.”