Raber Packing Company's History in Peoria, Illinois

Raber Packing Company began as a place for farmers to have their livestock processed at a facility versus doing it themselves on the farm.
Sam Raber originally was a sales manager for Cudahy Meats. When Cudahy closed up, he moved on to Nelson Beef, a retail meat shop. After the death of Mr. Nelson, Sam managed the market for Mrs. Nelson.
Signage on Building - Meat Packing Company in Peoria, IL
Fritz Wetterauer immigrated from Germany when he was 19 years old. He was a butcher by trade and worked in a wholesale slaughterhouse. On the side, he did on-site slaughtering. He would go to the farm, harvest the animals and hang them in the barn to chill. Fritz would go back later, cut the carcass into steaks and roasts, and grind the trim for ground meat, His wife, Mathilda would go along to wrap and label it for their freezer. Sam and Fritz first met at Nelson Beef. They got together and built Raber Packing Company on Farmington Road, a custom slaughterhouse. People would pay the farmer for the animal, who would bring it to Rabers and the customers would take home the frozen meat neatly wrapped and labeled in white freezer paper. A great convenience!
Meat Section - Meat Packing Company in Peoria, IL
Company Truck outside the building - Meat Packing Company in Peoria, IL
Rabers also slaughtered and processed meat for local businesses. In 1958, a gentleman that worked at a McDonalds approached Sam about supplying a fast-food franchise he was starting up. Rabers became the exclusive supplier for Sandys. Rabers added a storage freezer to supply the french fries and beef patties. The ‘potato' freezer is still in use today.
Nelson Beef didn't last much longer and the faithful customers would come to Rabers for their meat even though it was a wholesale business. The only choice was the next cut down. So if sirloin, chuck roast or rib eye was up, that's what you got! They were having so many 'retail' customers that they started putting the meat out on a table so they had choices. Well, the health department stepped in and said, "You can't just put meat out on a table. You have to put up a sneeze guard protecting the meat." So Rabers built on. In the new cooler, meat showcases were set-up and Rabers officially open as a retail market. The business grew incredibly fast and they could no longer cut custom meats, have enough room to age the beef, supply the wholesale businesses, and run the retail business. So more additions were built.
The last addition included a kitchen to make cooked products like luncheon meats, hot dogs, polish and brats. Gene Leihenseder, a German immigrant, was our original sausage maker. He was a trained pharmacist in the old country but he was not able to get a job because he spoke little English. He became acquainted with Fritz and Mathilda Wetterauer who spoke his language and he also knew how to make German sausages.
Today Rabers still does custom slaughtering and processing, the wholesale and retail business along with processing wild game and catering.