Cox’s Meat Market celebrates 90 years

Published 12:06 pm Sunday, September 17, 2023

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LAPLACE — Robert Cox will never forget the day his father met him underneath a pecan tree in Grand Point and told him it was time he took over the family business.

The year was 1992. Henry Cox had just turned 65 and was ready to retire from the store he’d worked in from the time he was a child. His father, John Cox, opened Cox’s Meat Market on family-owned land on September 3, 1933.

Ninety years later, the business is still known for its fresh Andouille, smoked meats, chicken smoked sausage, hog head cheese, and a variety of fresh cuts. Pictures on the wall tell stories of the family members who dedicated their lives to serving the community.

In the early days, livestock was slaughtered behind the family home and cut by hand in the butcher shop while early morning shoppers lined up outside of the building. Cox’s Meat Market is one of the few butcher shops in the region that still prides itself on procuring grass-fed meat and free-range chickens. Today, meat is delivered in fronts and hinds from Plaquemine, just outside of Baton Rouge.

John handed the reins to Henry in 1957.

Third generation owner Robert was helping his father in the shop by the time he was in the sixth grade, and he came on full time in 1970. While the thought of taking over the business scared him, he now can’t imagine his life panning out any other way.

He recalls the days when roads were dusty and unpaved. Trucks from Cox’s Meat Market traveled across the River Parishes, delivering fresh cut meat to households from Garyville to St. Rose. Over time, delivery services ceased in favor of sending a single truck to the German Coast Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. That stopped too, after a while, but the business never slowed down or lost traction.

Somehow people from across the region – and even across the world – always manage to find the little store tucked away along Highway 44 in Reserve. Cox’s Meat Market draws loyal customers from Kenner, Harahan, Gonzales, Baton Rouge, and communities lining the West Bank of St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parishes. In a world that prioritizes convenience, customers don’t mind driving to get a taste of Cox’s specialty meats.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time. I love it. People come here from all over,” Robert Cox said.

Robert’s precision with cutting meat is almost an art form; it’s the intricate attention to detail and service that has kept customers coming back for nearly a century.

The market’s role in the community was further solidified in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, when it became one of the first businesses to resume operation immediately following the storm.

It was an exceedingly difficult week. Henry Cox passed away from pancreatic cancer the day before the storm, days shy of his 94th birthday. Through their grief, the family had the foresight to procure a generator from Hammond right before Ida struck.

“We had a big generator, and we just kept it rolling. People were coming from everywhere because we were the only ones open,” Robert recalled.

Later that week, the store closed for a day for Henry’s funeral. Robert lost his mother soon after, but he knows both his parents would be proud to see Cox’s Meat Market celebrate 90 years.

And while Robert might be ready to retire before the family business hits its 100th milestone, he is committed to leaving the store in good hands so it may continue to serve generations to come.

“It will still be around. When it’s time to pass it on, it won’t be sold to just anybody,” he said.

A 90th anniversary celebration will be planned for this fall, featuring fresh jambalaya and other Cox’s Meat Market favorites.

Current store hours are 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 985-536-2491 or visit Cox’s Meat Market at 1162 Highway 44 in Reserve.