Meatless Monday

Where's the Beef at B&W Meat Co.?

The iconic cow sign at the N. Shepherd Dr. meat market is currently missing.

By Katharine Shilcutt February 9, 2015

This is the only cow that's outside B&W Meat Co. for now.

The stretch of N. Shepherd Dr. that spans a length of Houston between Loop 610 and I-45, traversing Garden Oaks and on into Northside and Acres Homes, is littered with iconic signs: the spindly Deco letters that spell out Sears, the royal blue display with "Adolf Hoepfl Garage" accented in neon, and the giant steer that overlooks B&W Meat Co—except that as of Saturday, the big bovine went missing.

B&W Meat Co.
4801 N. Shepherd Dr.

"He's gone off to get cuter," laughed my cashier at B&W Meat Co. on Monday afternoon, who wore a nametag that read Naquisha. The fiberglass cow that rested atop a red sign reading B&W Meat Co. since 1959 has been sent off to be repainted and renovated. "I think they're making him fatter," Naquisha chuckled.

"I almost missed the place," I told her as she scanned my purchases: fresh turtle meat and some bacon-wrapped quail destined for the grill this weekend. "That's what a lot of people have been saying," she replied. Many of B&W's older customers have grown accustomed to looking for the cow, she said, rather than the giant, barn-like structure that houses B&W's aisles of groceries and long stretch of butcher cases—so at least I know I'm not alone.

Insert joke about the cows coming home.

The cow will return in a few weeks, but its absence doesn't seem to have affected any of B&W's traffic in the meantime. Even at 1 p.m. on a Monday, the place was packed, with a dozen customers seated patiently on benches, waiting for their number to be called, and even more prowling the cases to see what was fresh. In the case of B&W, it's all fresh: the 25 different house-made sausages, the 46 different cuts of beef—from Pikes Peak roast to shoulder clods ready to feed an army after a generous amount of time in the smoker—the 37 different cuts of pork, and the nearly endless variety of specialty items from suckling pig to whole rabbit.

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