By CRISTINA JANNEY
Pat's Beef Jerky in Liebenthal is under new management with the new owners hoping for expansion.
Chris and Dana Schumacher took over the business from founder and owner Pat Carver in September upon his retirement.
"Pat's Beef Jerky has established itself as a Kansas staple, and we wanted to be a part of growing the brand," Dana Schumacher said.
Dana, 43, said she and Chris, 43, grew up in Hays around family businesses, so they saw the hard work and dedication it took by their parents to develop a business in ever-changing economies. Both Dana and Chris are Thomas More Prep-Marian alums.
"Chris has always had a love for cooking and creating in the kitchen," Dana said. "He started Shorty's BBQ in 2010 as a hobby and enjoyed developing menu items for friends and family, which developed into a catering business."
So far, little has changes at the business, especially in the recipes that Pat's Beef Jerky fans are used to. You will get the same legendary beef jerky, beef sticks, bologna, bratwursts and summer sausage as you always have.
The Schumachers are also partnering with Alma Cheese, and you can now buy their cheese products in Liebenthal at Pat's and Pat's Beef Jerky in Alma.
The Schumachers are also planning to keep Pat's in Liebenthal.
"The area has so much character, and we have grown to love it here," Dana said. "The small-town atmosphere makes the job so much more interesting as we meet people from all over the country who make it a point to stop at Pat's Beef Jerky."
Although Chris trained under Pat before taking over the business and plans on keeping the classic flavors, the couple is also looking toward the future.
"We hope to expand production capabilities by updating equipment and modernizing our facilities," Dana said. "We would love to expand our retail space to provide a larger variety of products. We hope to develop some new flavors to add to our jerky selection."
The business makes about 80 pounds of jerky four days a week and 85 to 95 pounds of beef pepper sticks one day each week.
Chris is working on a teriyaki beef jerky to add to the business's classic offerings.
"We would love to establish our brand in retail locations across the United States," Dana said. "We are always actively searching for stores to feature the Pat's Beef Jerky brand."
Dana said the couple did not have concerns about taking on a new business during the pandemic.
"I think during this tumultuous time, people are looking for things close to home to bring them comfort. Pat's Beef Jerky is a perfect comfort food," she said.