By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Tom Lowe assures a customer that the frozen turkey pot pie he wants – with vegetables – is due on a delivery truck later that day.
“We'sl call you when it comes in,” he promises.
Another shopper doesn's see a favorite in the prepared foods case and asks if there's any meatloaf. A staff member “will be making it when he comes in at noon. It will be ready for dinner,” Lowe says.
When was the last time your supermarket called to let you know a product you wanted had come in?
Lowe's Variety & Meat Shop specializes in service as well as meats cut to order, fresh fish delivered daily, produce from local farms, and a wide variety of prepared foods, including the Lowe's grinder sandwich, which has been a best seller since 1968.
“I don's think of us as a convenience store, but as the town grocery,” Lowe said. “We'se like a European-style market where people come in, buy what they want and eat it that night.”
Lowe's grandparents started the original Lowe's in Westborough in 1951. Their sons went on to open stores in Northborough, Hudson, Marlborough and Sanford, Maine. Tom bought the Northborough store, which was downtown, from his Uncle Bill in 1986. He moved it to the shopping center on West Main Street in 2006 for easier access and plenty of parking.
“A lot of people are still looking for a store where people know their name, where they can walk in, get what they need and walk out without battling crowds or facing long lines,” he noted.
Lowe's is a small store whose strength is its fresh foods. Customers will find basic items – cereal, pet food, toilet paper and such – in the center aisles as a convenience.
The centerpiece of Lowe's is the fresh meat counter in the back, staffed by a meat cutter who will deliver any cut of meat you need seven days a week. The beef is USDA Choice, with some USDA Prime strip steaks, and the hamburger is ground fresh in small batches all day. Ready-made stuffed roasts will impress dinner guests. Lowe's makes its own sausages, meatballs, Buffalo chicken wings and baby back ribs. It packages its own marinated beef, pork, lamb and chicken in Cryovac packaging to keep for a week or more.
“I stand behind every piece of meat I put in this case,” said Lowe.
That goes for fish as well. The store receives a seafood delivery from Captain Marden's Seafood in Wellesley six days a week.
“We can special-order any seafood you want – lobsters, steamers, king crab,” Lowe said. “If you call us before 9 a.m., it will come in on the 2:30 truck and you can pick it up for dinner.”
For the holidays, Lowe's takes orders for fresh turkeys from Bob's Turkey Farm in Lancaster up until the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
This year, he is partnering with Pepper's Fine Catering in Northborough to provide Thanksgiving side dishes including vegetables, sage gravy, apple cranberry stuffing, cranberry pecan chutney and many more; most dishes are available in quarts. Orders for these dishes need to be in by Thursday, Nov. 17.
If you don's feel like cooking, Lowe's offers about 20 different prepared entrees a day, most in containers with two or more servings. There are soups and chilis, marinara sauce, and entrees such as rotisserie chickens, shepherd's pie, American chop suey, chicken parmesan and beef stew, along with salads and homemade baked beans and brown bread.
The deli carries Boar's Head meats, and pre-made sandwiches, including wraps, are in an adjacent case. Lowe's has a catering menu featuring platters and cold finger foods for customers to pick up.
The produce section has a surprisingly large selection, and Lowe's buys from several farms in the area during the growing season. Similarly, milk in glass bottles from Byrne Dairy in Shrewsbury is next to the Hood milk products.
Fresh breads, pastries, coffee cakes and other baked goods are delivered daily from Culpepper's Bakery in Worcester, and Lowe's also bakes its own Italian bread, selling over 400 loaves a week.
There's even a peanut roasting machine turning out freshly roasted peanuts every day.
Lowe's Variety & Meat Shop is located at 255 West Main St., Northborough, and is open Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; the meat counter is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. To place an order, call 1-508-393-6594.