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Lawhon’s roots run deep in the community
March 15, 2017

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It is known for its great hamburgers and its sausage and gravy. It is also known for being pretty much in the same location for about as long as most people can remember.

Lawhon's Grocery & Meat, at 9491 Bayshore Road just east of I-75, has been serving the people of North Fort Myers since the 1976, when Laurine Belanger and her father, Richard Lawhon, opened the store. Laurine and her husband bought the store from her dad in 1989.

But the true history of Lawhon's dates back even further to when Richard Lawhon and his brothers all owned stores.

"Lawhon started in 1929 in Bonita Springs. My father had his first store (L&S) in 1958, but sold it and bought this one," Belanger said. "There were four Lawhon brothers and they had Ed's Foodway, Ken's Market, Don's Market and L&S."

In the beginning, people used to come with their tractors and horses and they would pump the gas (It was a 76 Station in the beginning). They also had the hanging cow where you would cut the meat.

Today, it's still a place where the employees know everyone by their first name. They also still cut their own meat to customer specifications and they have an emphasis on customer service.

The old place still has its signature offerings, such as the sausage and gravy.

"We grind our own pork sausage so everything is made right here. We also have great cheeseburgers because we also grind our own hamburger right here," Belanger said. "That's what we're known for."

Belanger used to work the long hours, but has since handed some of the duties off to her employees, who have continued the tradition of customer service you don't see much anymore.

"When I hire someone, it's about talking to every customer who walks in the door. You have smile and speak to everyone. Nothing else is tolerated," Belanger said.

Perhaps the most rewarding thing for Belanger is watching people who came to the store with their parents as kids, bringing their kids as adults.

"I've seen all the generations and the grandkids come in with their families," Belanger said. "It's way cool and the best thing is when people move to like Sarasota, they come back and fill their coolers with our meat because they can't find it there."

Karen Moraine has not moved. She's been a customer for 30 years and is a neighbor of Belanger's.

"The food, good friends, happiness, convenience, that's what brings me here. That and the fried livers. It's like home," Moraine said. "It's the best little place in our neighborhood."

J.D. Roberts has been the meat cutter for 11 years. He said everything they cut is fresh and made to order.

"We recognize the real good stuff from the Midwest. I love it here. They're good people and I've made a lot of friends," Roberts said. "I can't wait to come here. The deli girls are fun."

Lawhon's is open from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 543-1255.

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