Who wants jerky?

By Gray Hughes

WHO WANTS JERKY? — Mark and Connie Ostern opened the newest store in Hill City Thursday, April 25—Beef Jerky Outlet. The store specializes in different types of jerkies, including not only typical meats such as beef, pork and turkey but more exotic meats such as wild boar, ostrich, elk, bison, alligator, venison and kangaroo. The couple, who moved to Hill City from Fargo, N.D., in November, selected Hill City because of how the town has marketed itself as a true destination. The businesses and Hill City Chamber of Commerce have been very welcoming to the couple, they said, and they both said they look forward to a long, successful tenure in Hill City. [PN Photo/GRAY HUGHES]

Mark and Connie Ostern have been looking to move to the Black Hills for years.

Their dream started to take shape after visiting a Beef Jerky Outlet location in Cincinnati, Ohio, a year and a half ago.

“I felt at home there,” Mark said.

Fast-forward to the end of April and the two have opened the newest store in Hill City — a Beef Jerky Outlet.

The two moved to Hill City from Fargo, N.D., in November, and the couple said their move couldn’t have gone more flawlessly.

“(Mark) retired in October of last year from the military, and we moved down here Nov. 1. Everything sort of fell into place, our son graduated from college, sold the house in 10 days and I transferred with the VA as a nurse,” Connie said.

The process has been “odd,” Mark said, in the sense that they have “not had a glitch” other than small things.

Throughout the process, though, Mark said they have not had any negative confrontations with anybody throughout the process.

“For all the moving parts we have had over the past year, that is just bizarre,” Mark said. “From the time we decided to start looking at it, Beef Jerky franchise has been fantastic and then with selling the house, it has just been like clockwork. Typically it does not work that smoothly.”

Hill City was targeted as a location because of the nature of the town, Mark said. The Hill City Chamber of Commerce has done a “fantastic job,” he said.

“They’ve done a good job of making it a destination city,” Mark said. “We felt like Hill City was a good fit for the first store.”

Beef Jerky Outlets have over 100 franchises nationwide, Mark said, and offer specialty snacks such, but specialize in jerkies.

Their jerkies include jerkies made from traditional products such as beef, pork and turkey but also have jerkies made from exotic meats such as elk, bison, venison, wild boar, alligator, ostrich and kangaroo.

The jerky, the couple said, is superior than the product found in a grocery store.

“From the jerky standpoint, it is all top-grade product,” Mark said.  “It is all made in the U.S. Everything that we have the store is small batch. It is all evenly cooked, evenly processed. It is a superior product from the jerky to the peanuts to the popcorn, and then just the variety. It is all fresh. It doesn’t sit in the storeroom very long. It is made, shipped and then they start over again. It is a very labor-intensive process. It is an interesting process, but it takes about three pounds of beef to get a pound of jerky.”

Both Mark and Connie agreed that the cherry maple turkey jerky is “phenomenal.”

When people come into the store they can try different jerkies.

“When people come in walk around and try the jerkies, they don’t run into one they don’t like,” Mark said. “Probably the things that turn them away are the ones that are spicy. If you don’t like really hot stuff, well then stay away from the Carolina Reaper.”

The Beef Jerky Outlet is located at 219 Main Street in Hill City.

It is open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. every day.

Products can be purchased online at beefjerkyoutlet.com/hill-city.