When the new store opened at 1228 E. Fillmore on February 19, a steady stream of shoppers stopped in to see the new layout and check out the offerings. It was evident from the mix of people that over the years Ranch Foods Direct has become a neighborhood grocery shop relied on and beloved by many.

In fact, on what was an unseasonably warm day for mid-February, many of the shoppers walked, jogged or biked to get there. Rob Estes was wearing a t-shirt and shorts, obviously out for a run. He lives just two blocks away.

“When you can walk or get on your bike and go to your hardware store, your bank, your coffee shop or grocery store, it helps establish a sense of community,” he said. “I think the owners here have really put a lot of thought into that.”

In the roughly five years he’s been shopping Ranch Foods Direct, he’s never had a bad steak, he said.

“My personal favorite is the hanger steak, and you can’t find it anywhere else in town,” he said. “My favorite way of making it is to sear it on both sides, get it to about medium rare and slice it into half-inch thick medallions and put it over a salad with some pesto and tomatoes and whatever else I have in the refrigerator. Funny thing is, I didn’t even know what it was until I came in here a few years ago and somebody explained it to me, where it is on the cow and what to do with it. The Teres major is another steak you can cook to medium rare and slice thin and put over a variety of things, like maybe couscous or wild rice.”

David Havlick had arrived at the store by bicycle. “It’s on my way back from where I work at UCCS,” he said. “The store needs some bike racks but other than that it looks good. It looks like there’s room for more products, more fruits and vegetables, bulk bins.” (NOTE: Actually there is a bike rack on the backside of the store with hopefully more to come.) David was buying some chicken and also had a free coupon for ground beef, which he had received after contributing to the Indy Give campaign that helps raise funds for local non-profits at Christmas time (Ranch Foods Direct has been rewarding donors with coupons for the past several years.) “I’m mostly vegetarian, but my kids like the chicken and the sausages. If I get meat, I come here,” he said.

The new location was also handy for Chloe Pleitgen, who works right down the street at Colorado Living, a window replacement and home improvement company. “It sure has a new face,” she said. “It looks a lot better than the old place. It’s great to see this building being used rather than setting empty.” She was gathering up several items. “I love the bacon here. It’s so good,” she said. “I’m also trying to find something for my husband, who had a birthday recently, so I can make him a nice steak dinner.”

Other shoppers also responded enthusiastically to the new décor.

“We liked the old store, but this is much better,” said Curt Smith. “The wood covered cabinets are neat,” added his wife Sue. The couple are big fans of the 15-grain sourdough bread and the humanely raised and processed meats. “You owe it to the animal,” Curt said. “A cut I really like is the flatiron. It’s from the chuck but it’s very tender. It has the tooth of a steak with a lot less fat and it’s cheaper.” They also buy a lot of ground beef and sometimes brats. “The Callicrate Beef is really good,” Sue said. “We seek out restaurants that serve it. The burgers are always better.” CLICK HERE FOR THE RESTAURANT LIST.

The mix of people stopping by that day also included John Hogue, a sustainably minded customer who mostly avoids meat and dairy products but still comes in for vegetables, chocolates, beverages and other locally sourced items. He enjoyed meeting Matt Campbell, owner of Mountain Pie Co., and hearing about Matt’s plans to add a gluten-free crust to his line-up. (Matt will eventually roll out some new paleo products as well. His gourmet meat pies will soon be sold as hot ready-to-eat lunches right on site.)

“I’m glad to see the more prominent location. I think it will draw some new customers,” John said. “Even though I don’t seen any dancing people out on the sidewalk,” he added with a grin.

Hours of operation are M-F 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.