As you walk into Fischer Meats, whether it’s from the front or back, employees are grinding, chopping or wrapping meat. No matter how busy it is, an employee always looks up and attentively greets each customer with a smile.
The 113-year-old business started in 1910, making it the oldest business in Issaquah.
John Fischer, a German sausage maker, was the original owner of the butcher shop at 85 Front St. N. Since its conception, the business has been passed down to his sons and to two other families.
Each family has created its own legacy within Fischer Meats. However, the local and fresh products, the camaraderie between the employees and customers, and the feeling of nostalgia have managed to stay the same.
Josh and Corissa McGehe are the third family to own Fischer Meats, but their involvement at the shop started long before becoming owners.
Josh has been in the meat industry for over 20 years and worked at Fischer Meats for 13 years as the right-hand man for the former owners and brothers Chris and Jaque Chiechi, who owned the shop since 1981.
Once the Chiechi brothers retired in 2022, they passed the shop down to Josh. Soon after, Corissa retired from her 20-year teaching career and came to work at Fischer Meats full-time.
Corissa, who had helped at Fischer Meats on holidays in prior years, said she loved the community and the family-like bond they made with loyal customers.
“Our community is what supports us the most. We’ve had a lot of our clientele here since they were kids, and they’re in their older ages. They bring in their kids, and they bring in their kids.”
Though the McGehes have kept the old-school charm and warmth of Fischer Meats, they have made strides to bring certain aspects of the shop into the modern era for convenience.
“You know, modernizing [Fischer Meats], like being able to use a credit card machine,” Corissa chuckled.
The McGehes have made additions within the store to create a one-stop shop for customers, such as potatoes or pasta to pair with their meat — or snacks like pickles, chips and nuts to pair with their homemade jerky or pepperonis.
“But, we’re also keeping it to where when people come in, it hasn’t changed a whole bunch, to where they don’t feel the change,” she said. “We didn’t change the product. That stuff has stayed the same because it’s tried and true. A lot of our products are Washington based, Washington grown.”
The McGehes strive to support their local and Washington-based community by selling products like hot sauces from Eastern Washington, soup from Ritzville and seasonings from Sumner and Carnation.
The various meats are bought daily from local farms. Corissa said this is much different than going to a grocery store like Safeway, which receives their meat orders in bulk from warehouses.
“We can get in differently because we have farms that are local, and we directly work with the vendors and the distributors. We can talk to them, and they work with us,” she said.
Though the selection at Fischer Meats is vast, the items have the quality of a home-cooked meal. The fresh crab cakes are Josh’s personal recipe, sausages are ground and packed in-house daily and Corissa’s friend hand cuts, makes and breads ready-to-cook items, like chicken or kebabs.
When asked what some popular items have been throughout the years, without thought, Corissa swiftly turned to face a glass case that was one-third full of their butchery beef jerky.
“The candy bacon jerky is a super popular item,” she said, pointing to the empty metal tub in the case.
Another favorite is the cowboy steak, a 3-inch-thick cherry-red steak with white marbling. Some people come just for the fresh sausages, Corissa said.
Josh and Corissa’s two sons have worked a lot a the shop. Their younger son, a senior in high school, hopes to carry on the family legacy.
“His goal is to want to do what we’re doing. So we’re happy about that. We’re going to push him toward business school and those kinds of things, so if this is something that he does want in the future, he has an education that supports that,” Corissa said.
She said he understands the work ethic it takes. Not just on the normal days, but holidays too.
While Fischer Meats is busy all year long, holidays are the most hectic. The McGehe family has to put vacations on the back burner until the festivities die down. However, the community and fun atmosphere make it all worth it, Corissa said.
“It’s a tried and true family tradition to come here, especially for the holidays. They look forward to that. They know what to expect when they come in here. They know what kind of feeling they’re going to get when they come in here,” she said.