Highway 41 was once a main route between the upper peninsula of Michigan and Miami, running right down Main Street in what is now called the Southside.
That name now finds new life in Link 41, a shop scheduled to begin production of hand-crafted sausages in early March on Main Street.
Its owners say it links the past and future as it occupies a site on the route.
"The food movement is a little of the past, but looking forward to what we should be thinking about," said owner Trae Moore. "We talked about how to link the urban and the rural and how the urban environment affects the rural by consumption of food, which has a huge impact on the environment around us."
Mr. Moore, formerly involved in a number of food and farming endeavors in the area, and his business partner, local developer Tom Montague, conceived the idea of a sausage shop two years ago. Since that time, Mr. Moore has taken meat science classes at the University of Iowa at Ames, as well as worked with butchers in Tuscany, Italy. In the meantime, Mr. Montague put his experience to work rehabbing the century-old building on Main Street, an extension of Niedlov's Breadworks.
"We're trying to build a community of small businesses working together," Mr. Montague said, adding that animating the face of Main Street is part of the urban renewal that fits into their plan of opening their meat business.
The men have gained U.S. Department of Agriculture certification for the meat they will produce, allowing them to sell their products -- walk-in or by mail -- to any specialty stores, restaurants or individuals nationwide.
"The paperwork was a challenge, but a big learning curve," Mr. Moore said. A USDA inspector will inspect the facility daily once it opens and be on hand to offer any advice the men may need.
"They are a good resource to have and were very helpful as we went through the process" of certification, Mr. Moore said.
When Link 41 is open and fully operating, the store will carry a number of hand-crafted sausages, including:
* Breakfast sausage
* Link sausage
* Smoked sausage
* Summer sausage
The men have been selling sausages at the Main Street Farmer's Market for the past year. They will begin production of sausage in their new location in early March and have a grand opening in mid-March once they've had time to build up inventory, they said.
The meat shop has a large cooler for fresh meats that will be delivered to make into various sausages, including fresh and link sausages; smoked sausage; and salamis. There are rooms for drying and aging, and a separate room for walk-in, over-the-counter sales. A large window across the front allows passersby to view sausage in the making.
"We thought it's important to let people see where they food comes from," Mr. Montague said. "You can peek in our window and see what we're doing."