Elder's Country Store

Elder's customer Bill Skoruppa looks over a display of meats at Elder's Country Store.

Since the 1960s, Ted Staples has been a customer at Elder's Country Store and Market.

Now retired, the former six-term Bee County justice of the peace still makes nearly daily visits to there.

In fact, he stopped there one July morning for a lunch of fried fish, beans and root beer just as he had every other day that week.

After about six decades of frequenting Elder's, Staples said its become an essential part of his routine.

And it's not just the food that's worth the visit although the menu has always impressed Staples' friends, out-of-town visitors and even a few FBI agents he met during his time as judge, he said.

"I usually get here about 10:30 or 11 a.m. every day," the 83-year-old said. "If I want to talk to people, I'll come at noon."

After opening in 1961, Elder's has attracted customers with the promise of fresh meat at the deli counter, groceries and necessities or simply a quick but delicious lunch.

The allure of a tasty meal even extends into the parking lot. The brisket and mesquite-smoked ham cooked in a barbecue pit overnight inevitably leaves an irresistible aroma every morning at the nearby intersection of Washington and St. Mary's streets.

Despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, business at Elder's has remained booming at the family-owned business, said owner Jeanette Elder, 86.

Apart from the decreased occupancy and increased space between tables, the market has continued just as it always has.

Ham orders are still a hit, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the jerky, chicken salad and bacon sold there remain popular es ever.

Elder said the demand for their chicken salad is so high these days that getting some before it runs out can be a challenge, albeit a worthy one.

While Elder said she is getting older and sometimes needs a little help using the computer, she said there's no plans of closing the market.

That's in part because she gets plenty of help from her sons and grandkids.

But Elder, despite her years, said she also finds a comfort in working at the store with its consistently tasty food and steady stream of friendly customers.

"It kind of keeps me going," she said.

Jon Wilcox reports on courts for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached jwilcox@vicad.com or 361-580-6515.

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Jon covers crime, public safety and the courts at the Victoria Advocate. Born in Huntsville, Ala., he grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism at Texas State University.

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