Dayton Chronicle - Your Hometown News Source


Another beloved institution closes


June 18, 2020

This week it would be appropriate to pontificate about the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, ad nauseum, and about the governor and mayor of the People's Republic of Seattle turning their backs on a mass violation of law and order.

Instead, this will be about smilin' Wally McCauley and his dear wife Marie, and their quaint grocery, McQuary's Grocery, which has been at 301 W. Main Street since around 1940.

Or so. Wally ain't sure.

"Wally's," or, to be more proper, McQuary's Grocery, will close at the end of this week.

The little market has been Wally's and Marie's domain for 38 years and its claim to fame is the quality of meat that comes out of the back corner of the place.

Wally's pork sausage is renowned around the region. There's an art to making it, making it right, and Wally is well practiced in it.

It's made in small batches, then the meat rests in the case, awaiting buyers, who drop in steadily for what they know is a great product. Wally's practiced eye and hands scoops out the sausage, and he's darn close to hitting whatever weight the customer wants. It was carefully wrapped in plastic wrap then folded into white butcher paper as Wally carries on a detailed conversation with you. He doesn't need to stop and think; wrapping bazillions of packages over the decades has made that an automatic thing.

Steaks, chops, roasts...almost any cut of meat from Wally's was sure to be a good-tasting family favorite.

I speak for many when I say, Wally and Marie, we're going to miss you.

There are many "Wally" stories. He tells of one customer from across the hill who was in Spokane, but heading back over the Cascades. The man was willing to add hours and miles to his drive to pick up a sizeable order and take back to his residence on the Olympic Peninsula.

Wally had two and a half hours to get that sausage packaged, and, sure enough, the guy left Dayton with a load of sausage and a smile.

When my dad was bedridden at Dayton General Hospital, his boyhood friend flew in from Texas for a last visit with his best friend. Four rib steaks were picked up from Wally's and we had steak, salad and baked potato in his hospital room. Dad's friend commented that you'd have to go a long way in Texas to find a steak that good.

McQuary's is representative of something that is slowly disappearing from the American landscape: the home-grown, mom-and-pop business. Yes, there are unique and local businesses in places big and small all across the U.S., but more and more, it's McDonald's and Starbucks off of every interstate exit. It seems that any exit you take anywhere in our land has the same franchises lining the strip.

Sure, we hit the drive-throughs from time to time. But it's special to get a cheeseburger and onion rings at Ray's, a rib steak from Wally's, or onsite-brewed beer at Chief Spring's, only available here. Dayton boasts its share of unique, home-town favorites, run by people with a passion to serve the community.

Wally and Marie signed the papers in the summer of 1982, 38 years ago, committing themselves to making their own way in life while providing a value to their customers. They've faithfully operated the store all of those years with a smile and a good word. Take some time to perch on a stool by the cash register, and you'll have the chance to help Wally and Marie solve many of the nation's and the world's more perplexing issues...just like at every coffee klatch in this, Our Fair City, and thousands of others across the United States.

"That's an end of an era," Wally remarked to me last week, between ringing up customers visiting-perhaps for the last time-to buy some of the last items remaining on the shelves, or pick up their last order of meat from Wally's butcher shop.


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