McLaughlins offer more than sausage

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

By Jessie Burchette

Salisbury Post

MOUNT ULLA –McLaughlin’s Farmhouse is open for business.

It’s a whole lot country, with a fireplace, rocking chairs and an invitation to come sit a while and sip a cup of fresh coffee.

It’s a new venture for the fifth generation McLaughlin Sausage Co., which turns out thousands of pounds of livermush and sausage monthly.

Located at 17725 N.C. 150, the wooden structure and adjacent sausage plant is surrounded by million-dollar houses in the Teeter Farms and Steeple Gate subdivisions.

While some of the high-end neighbors originally opposed the plans for the store, many couldn’t wait for it to open. As the family worked late into the nights over the last week to get the store stocked and ready to open, people kept stopping by, hoping they might get in early.

They couldn’t, at least not until the store officially opened this past Friday.

Many families across Rowan and Iredell counties grew up on McLaughlin sausage.

They marketed their sausage through small, family stores, such as McCombs in Faith.

Gradually, those stores closed one by one, leaving the McLaughlins with no retail outlet in Rowan County for their products. But their sales to restaurants, including many in Iredell and Catawba counties, have continued to grow.

Brothers Tom and Bill McLaughlin hope the folks that remember the taste of McLaughlin sausage will be visiting the farmhouse. And they’re hoping to win over more.

Joining the brothers in the venture is Bill McLaughlin III, the fifth generation in the family’s meat business.

While providing an outlet for their sausage business, the brothers also want to bring back the atmosphere of a country store and make Mount Ulla proud.

“We’re a very blessed family, and we thank God,” Bill McLaughlin Jr. said last week. “This is not just about making money. We want to provide an asset to the community and to the county.

“You can come out and sit, relax and talk, sip coffee or cappuccino.”

The McLaughlins have a dozen or more new rocking chairs waiting to be tested.

The Farmhouse offers McLaughlin’s sausage, livermush, center-cut country ham and bacon.

And the store will stock organic, range-raised, brown eggs.

For the beef lovers, the McLaughlins offer hand-cut Black Canyon Angus steaks.

While the meat may be the featured attraction, the farmhouse goes far beyond.

“Our goal is to offer the best products from across North Carolina,” Bill Jr. said. The family plans to have as much N.C. produce as possible, including Deluxe Ice Cream from neighboring Mooresville Ice Cream Co.

The store also offers a wide variety of old-style candies, homemade jellies, jams and preserves. And you can get fresh flowers or silk flower arrangements.

Luellen Masingo, a McLaughlin cousin and store manager, offers custom floral arrangements. And given the time of year, you can find a Christmas wreath.

“Don’t forget the Amish breads,” Bill Jr. said, or the homebaked pies, cakes and other goodies fresh from the ovens of Mount Ulla’s best bakers.

The McLaughlins are offering an assortment of gift boxes in the $25 to $35 price range that feature the country ham with various breakfast items, including grits, pancake or biscuit mixes, cheese or jams and jellies.

They offer the boxes individually or in large quantities for corporate gifts. Custom gift boxes can be put together to suit the customer’s taste.

In recent weeks, family members have split their time between meat production and getting the store ready.

With the final building inspection approval and electricity turned on Tuesday, they started stocking shelves while workmen moved in large coolers.

In the long run, the McLaughlins hope to attract customers from Lake Norman, Charlotte, Salisbury and Statesville — offering a visit to “a slower, simpler time, where folks are friendly.”

The McLaughlins hope the store will boost sales of their main products: sausage and livermush.

In December, they make sausage once a week, turning out 1,500 to 2,000 pounds.

But livermush is the big seller in November and December. They make livermush three days a week, turning out 3,000 pounds.

“It doesn’t taste like liver,” said Tom, who is in charge of the livermush production. “Liver is bitter.”

The McLaughlin Sausage Co. plant, located on the same property as the Farmhouse, was built in 1962 by Harold “Pop”McLaughlin, father of Tom and Bill.

For many years before that, the family’s business operated in Mooresville, while the family lived and farmed in Mount Ulla.

Bill said the family meat business started in the days of horses, wagons and no refrigeration. Silas McLaughlin would kill a cow, haul it to nearby Mooresville, park on the street and cut it up as customers placed their orders.

According to family stories, Silas bought a 200-acre farm during the Civil War for $50.

The McLaughlins sold most of that tract across the road. It’s now Steeple Gate, a high-end gated development. Some family members, including Masingo, continue to live on parts of the old farm.

Now, the McLaughlins buy their hogs from other farmers.


McLaughlin’s Farmhouse will operate Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., during December. January hours will be announced later. For more information, call 704-660-0971.

Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@