Aces of Trades: Tri-Rivers teachers find new career with Saums Market and The Bratty Wagon
CAREY – As a youngster, Sheila Hamm knew exactly what she wanted to do.
“As a kid I was either in the kitchen with my grandmother or the garden with my grandfather," recalled Hamm. "Either way, I was always fascinated with food and what you could make out of such simple fresh ingredients. Dining in a restaurant was only for very special occasions, but I was mesmerized by the smells, flavors, sounds and smiles on people’s faces.”
“I knew I wanted to be a chef," she added.
Today, Hamm and her husband, Jim Rittler, own and operate Saums Market in Carey.
“We’re known for our house-made German-style Bratwurst,” she said. “We grind our own ground beef daily, cut steaks daily. It’s all carry-out, and we wholesale our products to other businesses and restaurants.”
It’s called Saums Market, by the way, because the previous owner’s last name was Saums.
“We kept the name because of the reputation that was built around the bratwurst," noted Hamm.
The two also own The Bratty Wagon, a food truck often seen in Marion.
“We serve brat patties, which we call The Bratty,” she said. “We also serve smoked pork, smoked brisket and grilled bologna. Marion is a huge supporter of The Bratty Wagon.”
Hamm grew up in Wadsworth, graduated from Wadsworth High School in 1982 (and took vocational culinary arts at Copley High School), then studied food production management at The University of Akron, business management at Franklin Business College, business management and career tech education at Ohio State, career tech education at Toledo University and culinary arts at Hocking College.
She subsequently taught culinary arts at Tri-Rivers Career Center in Marion.
“I first started to think about teaching when I realized I wanted to give back what was given to me as a teenager" said Hamm. "I had an amazing culinary instructor who instilled the drive that anything I wanted to do was possible. She helped me get a scholarship to get me started in college.”
Meanwhile, Rittler grew up in Cardington and taught ag industrial power at Tri-Rivers for more than two decades.
“I was a farm kid and loved agriculture and working with livestock,” he said. “It never even crossed my mind about owning a meat market. I always wanted to be a large animal veterinarian, not a meat cutter.”
Still, he added, “I enjoy talking to the customers. They come in as strangers and leave as friends. The best part is getting to know our regular customers.”
The two bought Saums six years ago.
“We wanted something for a retirement plan,” Hamm said. “Saums Meats had been in business for 33 years prior to us buying it.”
“My role is to do whatever needs done,” she stated. “Some days I make bratwurst, smoke meat or cut steaks, wait on customers, cater events. Other days I put stock away, sweep and mop the floors. I really can’t complain. I’ve had a very blessed life.”
Saums Market is located at 501 N. Vance St. in Carey. For more information, call 419-396-6905 or look on Facebook.
Aces of Trades is a weekly series focusing on people and their jobs — whether they’re unusual jobs, fun jobs or people who take ordinary jobs and make them extraordinary. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.