LEWISBURG, W.Va. — The American tradition of smoking, drying and curing beef has exploded in popularity in recent years, with the resulting “jerky” gaining traction as a low-fat, high-protein snack. And today, the process is applied not only to beef but to other meats as well, with at least one Chicago-based market research firm reporting that sales of jerky jumped 46 percent between 2009 and 2013.
It comes as no surprise, then, that a couple of enterprising entrepreneurs would tap into that burgeoning market and develop a national beef jerky franchise operation. Begun by Paul Lyons and Scott Parker as a single store in Destin, Fla., the Beef Jerky Outlet now boasts six founder-owned stores and 25 franchise stores, with 33 more slated to open in the next 18 months all across the U.S.
The most recent Beef Jerky Outlet to open is sited in a high-traffic area in the northern entry corridor of Lewisburg, directly on Route 219, just off I-64. And owner Ryan Neal says he and his three business partners love the location.
“We chose Lewisburg because everybody’s familiar with The Greenbrier (in nearby White Sulphur Springs), Lewisburg was recently named America’s Coolest Small Town and Snowshoe ski resort is right up the road,” Neal says. “It’s a tourist destination.”
With thousands of vehicles pouring past the store every day, Neal says business has been brisk since the doors opened three weeks ago…