Village Meat Market and Cafe in Czech Village is closing

Lou Oettinger Thompson at Village Meat Market & Cafe, Cedar Rapids. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

After eight years of offering Cedar Rapids a traditional Czech butcher shop with a Southern accent, the Village Meat Market and Cafe is closing.

When co-owners Lou Oettinger Thompson and Hugh Lamont opened Village Meat Market in the Czech Village, it filled a hole left after Polehna’s Meat Market closed. That traditional Czech meat market had been operating since the 1920s, but its owners chose not to reopen after the shop underwent extensive damage in the 2008 flood.

The flood wasn’t the only natural disaster that played a part in Village Meat Market’s start. Thompson grew up in Cedar Rapids, but spent years working in restaurants and casinos in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast, before the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina convinced her to return her hometown.

Thompson brought Cajun spices and jambalaya to Village Meat Market, as well as a vision for an eclectically decorated 32-seat cafe. Lamont, who worked at Polehna’s for more than a decade, contributed a thorough knowledge of what makes a great Czech butcher shop.

Writing in the Gazette shortly after the Village Meat Market opened, Cindy Hadish called it “a hybrid where customers can pick up milk, eggs and other essentials along with old-variety meats and cheeses, and sit down for a meal or coffee in casual surroundings.”

“Everything in the butcher case at Village Meat Market is homemade and smoked in-house,” Little Village wrote in a 2017 story that named the Market one of the four “best places to find the finest cuts” in the area. “The staff prides themselves on having the best quality, sourced from as near as possible, and treated with the utmost care.”

Sunday, Dec. 29, will be the Village Meat Market’s final day. The owners have not offered a reason for the closure.

The Village Meat Market in Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

It won’t just be human customers who miss the market once it closes. As Little Village noted in 2017, Thompson, “an avid dog-lover, also sells pigs ears, which she roasts underneath the bacon in the smoker. If you have a pup at home, this is a mandatory purchase.”