WAHOO, Neb. — Five months after fire destroyed the Wahoo Locker building, owners Charlie Emswiler and Josh Schommer and their crew have reopened the downtown meat business and resumed production of its famous Wahoo Wieners.
In a new location, “we've got maybe 10 times the space,” Emswiler said, and three more employees for a total of 10.
Customers have responded well, he said. At the end of a recent grand-opening event, the locker's inventory was down to 10 pounds of wieners, and many of its sausages, hams, turkeys and other products were sold out.
With deer-hunting season near — the Locker processes venison, too — the business now has a shiny retail area in the front with deli shelves, coolers and a meat display case, and an expanded production area in the back.
The old location, just across an alley, was too small, so Emswiler had purchased the former hardware store for future expansion. But on May 8 a meat smoker started a fire, hastening the move.
Firefighters from Wahoo, about 30 miles west of Omaha, and seven other communities spent two hours putting out the blaze. No one was injured.
During the relocation and renovation work, Emswiler kept his people on the payroll thanks to business interruption insurance. “It was just enough to keep me afloat,” he said. His wife, Kristi, and her father, Ken Kadavy, also work at the store.
“It was a challenge, I'll say that,” Emswiler said, but now the new location is drawing new attention. “We were very busy before, but not nearly this pace. It's amazing how much is selling out of here now.”
An earlier version incorrectly spelled Ken Kadavy' last name.