Some places come and go, while some places become icons. Mandatory Milwaukee is all about the latter. Join us as we revisit beloved and well-worn local staples with fresh eyes, and explore how they might figure in the city’s future.
On Chase Avenue, just a few blocks away from a Target and right across the street from a mini mall parking lot that’s become a trusted spot for COVID-19 testing in recent months, another landmark looms large. There, a gigantic Klement’s sign beside the factory looks out over the Bay View-adjacent causeway, quite literally letting passersby know where the sausage is made.
Upon seeing the unmistakable red and white logo jutting its way into the South Side skyline, most motorists likely continue on their way without a second thought. Others are possibly struck with a momentary sense of local pride, visions of early Sausage Races at Brewers games, or cravings for some of Milwaukee’s most iconic meats. And for those folks in the know, the Klement’s sign also serves a shimmering beacon that signals savings and leads value-conscious carnivores to a small, semi-secluded, and character-laden store that’s unlike any other meat market in Milwaukee.
When turning onto a nondescript driveway and going past two employee parking lots on the way to the base of the hulking sign, you’ll eventually come to a small grouping of “Customer Parking Only” stalls that are set before the only entrance to the factory that looks to be even remotely publicly-facing. If you make it to that point, congratulations…you’ve reached the Klement’s Outlet Store (2650 S. Chase Ave., 414-744-2330 Ext. 261).
Once you enter the building, you might get the feeling you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be. Down a narrow hallway that goes underneath a factory staircase, you’ll see a white board with specials for things like snack sticks and “Marty’s Pizza Meat” that couldn’t possibly be available to mere civilians.
But you’re no longer just some nobody who has to pay regular person prices. You’ve made it to the protein promised land, where everyone is a VIP.
That corridor is lined with weathered coolers that are plastered with dated Klement’s branding and partially filled with irresponsibly-priced meat.
Sure, the labels aren’t always the most stylish, but we’re willing to bet you can overlook that when you’re getting a hunk of summer sausage for between 50 cents and a buck in some cases. During our most recent visit, we had two items in our basket before we even actually made it into the store portion itself, which is at the end of the hall.
Okay, so “store” is probably an overstatement. More accurately, it’s a small and dingy room in an industrial factory that we’d estimate is about 15 feet by 20 feet.
While its square footage is limited, its inventory isn’t lacking at all. Obviously there are brats on hand.
And ground Italian sausage.
There are hot dogs aplenty, too.
And you can bet there’s kielbasa, beef sticks, and breakfast links as well.
¿Chorizo? ¡Si, es verdad!
After our most recent visit, we bought some ground Italian sausage, two types of summer sausage, two huge sticks of chorizo, and an eight-pack of hot dogs for a grand total of…$8.40 after tax. Yep. $8.40.
Whether you’re looking to stock up with a bulk purchase to get you through the upcoming Packers season or you’re just looking to save a few bucks, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better—or, frankly, a weirder—place to take care of your sausage-related needs. So next time you’re on Chase Avenue (as long as it’s a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., that is!) and looking to load up on meat straight from the source, follow the sign to savings.