Dubuque County meat locker closes after more than 70 years of business

The Holy Cross Locker closed its doors for the final time Saturday morning, after more than 70...
The Holy Cross Locker closed its doors for the final time Saturday morning, after more than 70 years in business. (Aaron Scheinblum, KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Dec. 29, 2018 at 5:05 PM CST
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The Holy Cross Locker closed its doors for good today after more than 70 years in the meat business. Ownership said business was good, but he knew it was time to retire.

Holy Cross Locker, owned by Bob Hayes, passed through generations- his parents started the business in 1946, and Hayes started working full-time after graduating from Loras College in Dubuque in 1974. His children spent time working at the meat locker, learning "invaluable" lessons as they matured.

Saturday was the final day for Hayes, after 44 years working at the business. Last-minute customers went into what Hayes called "panic mode" to get their hands on what was left.

People grabbed hamburger, steak, and sausage by the box full, and it did not take long for the shelves in the meat locker to start running thin.

This time, however, they will not get re-stocked.

"I've got good health yet, and I've had enough," Hayes said. "I've said this numerous times: I like Friday night more than I do Monday morning, but I never hated coming up here."

Through the decades of hard work, his family members, who double as staff members, have taken notes.

"He goes out of his way to help other people, and he would do anything for anybody, and I think that's probably the most important thing I try and do on a day-to-day basis," said Sarah Hayes, Bob Hayes' daughter. Sarah Hayes is a teacher in Cedar Rapids, but when her father calls, she offers help.

Bob Hayes said his way of doing business was the reason he was so successful: using kindness above all.

"It's not just exclusive to the Holy Cross Locker," Bob Hayes said. "Just treat people with respect and do the best you can."

Saturday morning served as a bittersweet ending for Bob Hayes, as they closed at 11 a.m. for the final time.

"Makes me feel good, like I did things the right way," Bob Hayes said, looking back on his success.

Now the Hayes family is spending more time looking forward rather than looking back.

"I got a lot of living left to do," Bob Hayes said. "Volunteer work and two grand kids in Cedar Rapids."

"I'm just really happy that I will no longer ever be called to clean out the stockyards or the gut barrels, or even just wrap some hamburger," Sarah Hayes said. "That phone call's not going to happen anymore."

As of Saturday morning, the writing is on the wall, or in the case of the Holy Cross Locker, the front door.

If anyone shows up Sunday, they will only see the closed door and a sign- because as the sign clearly shows, the store is closed forever.