Bolling’s Meat Market and Deli opened in October of 2010 by Cara (Bolling) Thomas, and Mitch and Sharon Bolling.
The business was originally called Bolling’s Meat Market. The Bolling’s have been in the meat business for 4 generations and it all started about 75 years ago. Mitch’s grandfather, Ted Bolling, was a butcher. He butchered for numerous farmers and locker owners. He and his wife, Carolyn, had 2 children. The boy, “Chub”, learned how to butcher alongside his father. When Chub was a teenager, Ted suffered a horrible farming accident that cost him an arm. He could no longer butcher with only 1 arm, so Chub took over the family business. During this time Chub married Helen Clark. Chub and Helen made their home in Bronson, Kansas. Chub continued butchering and eventually purchased the Bronson Locker. They had 3 children together, Mike, Mitch, and Amber who all grew up cutting meat and learning the trade. When they became adults, Mike and Mitch went into the family business and together with their parents, purchased more locker locations in southeast Kansas including the Moran Locker. Mitch married Sharon Rodke who also joined the business.
In 1994, Moran Locker suffered a devastating fire. The family decided at that point to venture out on their own. Chub and Helen continued owning and operating the Bronson Locker. Mike went on to run a successful restaurant and butchered for local meat lockers. Mitch and Sharon decided to reopen the Moran Locker as sole owners. Mitch and Sharon have three children. Two of their children, Cara and Seth worked together with them developing the Moran Locker into a premier full service meat processing facility.
In 2004, the Moran Locker suffered yet another devastating fire. It was during this time that the idea of Bolling’s Meat Market was born. The family was regrouping and deciding their future and they felt the future was an Iola location. However, as the children were still young and none had graduated college yet, Mitch and Sharon built the Moran Locker back in its original location with the idea of perhaps opening a retail branch in Iola one day.
In 2010, Cara decided that she would helm the Iola project and together with Mitch and Sharon purchased the vacant building at 201 S State in Iola. Starting with only a few hundred square foot of space, the Bolling’s opened a retail only location and sold the Moran products. As the need of the business in the community grew, so did their dreams and goals.
By 2013, Bolling’s Meat Market had added 3 separate additions to accommodate the growing business and a full service Deli restaurant which prompted them to change their name to Bolling’s Meat Market and Deli. In this brief time, Bolling’s Meat Market and Deli has been featured in magazines, radio, and newspapers across the Midwest and well as receiving the Kansas Small Business Development Center’s Emerging Business of the Year award a few years ago, and were awarded the Kansas Small Business Development Center's Existing Business of the Year in 2019.
As for the aforementioned family members? Chub and Helen still own and operate the Bronson Locker and pastor a small church. Mike and his wife, Melinda, live in Blue Mound, Kansas and Mike still butchers for local lockers including the Bronson Locker and the Moran Locker. Amber is a grade school teacher and works at Bolling’s Meat Market on the weekends and summer as well as school holidays and breaks. Mitch and Sharon currently own and operate the Moran Locker and are 50% partners with Cara in Bolling’s Meat Market and Deli. Seth Bolling graduated from Pittsburg State University. He works as a manager at Moran Locker as the premier meat cutter and assistant butcher, and also manages the game season. Cara graduated from Kansas State University, and is now married to Daniel Thomas. They have a three children, two sons, Aidan and Kian, and a daughter Victoria. She works full time at Bolling’s Meat Market and Deli as the Managing Partner. She also runs a catering company through Bolling’s Meat Market and Deli.