Iconic central Kansas beef jerky keeps tradition alive but is about to branch out into brats and ... bologna

Alice Mannette
Hays Daily News
Chris and Dana Schumacher of Hays own the popular Pat's Beef Jerky in Liebenthal, taking over after Pat Carver's recent retirement.

Tradition is key at Pat's Beef Jerky in Liebenthal. Along with the tried and true recipes, there is the shop's hometown atmosphere.

Pat Carver, who started the business during the 1990s, knew he wanted to retire. But it was not until he found Chris and Dana Schumacher of Hays, who were not only willing to buy the thriving business but devote both their heart and sweat equity into the business. 

For months, Chris worked alongside Pat, perfecting his skills so he could take over the beef jerky business. The jerky, made from many secret spices, is produced on the premises. 

"Pat Carver built a brand with a great reputation," Chris said. "I have enjoyed learning all his tricks of the trade."

Chris ran a catering business in Hays and works with an award-winning competition barbecue team called Shorty’s BBQ. He enjoys cooking — and experimenting. Opening up the palate to new sensations is one of his loves. 

History

Liebenthal, which was founded in 1876, was named after a Russian city in which many Germans lived. This small hamlet in central Kansas of less than 100 people is about 20 miles south of Hays.

Back in the 1990s, Pat Carver, who worked in Hays, saw a need for beef jerky and started his part-time enterprise. In a short time, he needed to quit his full-time job and devote himself to crafting his iconic central Kansas brand. 

Pat's Beef Jerky for sale at the Heart of Kansas Gift Shop in Great Bend

The future

The meat used in the jerky is from Kansas and comes from a variety of locations. It was important to Carver to keep the meat from the sunflower state and Chris and Dana are doing the same.

"We have been working with T & W Meats out of Kingman, Kansas for our specialty cuts for many years," Chris said. 

This summer, Pat's will introduce a variety of bratwurst. These will include regular, jalapeño, cheddar, spicy hatch green chili and beer brats. 

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They are also looking to expand their retail location in Liebenthal to provide a broader inventory of beef jerky, beef sticks, summer sausage, bologna and brats as well as other Kansas-made products.  

"It is hard to beat Pat's original beef stick," Chris said. "But we have experimented with a Jalapeño and a Tex-Mex flavor so you might see those in Liebenthal soon." 

Locations

Chris is running the backend of the business, dealing with inventory and production. Dana is working on sales and marketing.

"We are always looking for more retailers," Dana said. "Increasing our production will allow us to take on more wholesale and retail locations as well."

Pat's Beef Jerky can be found throughout Hays, including at several convenience and liquor stores. The product is also available at DC Appliance in Dodge City, True Value Hardware and select S & W Supply stores in Garden City, Kansas Originals Market in Wilson and Heart of Kansas Mercantile in Great Bend. 

"Pat Carver has built a legendary brand that people are loyal to," Chris said. "We welcomed the opportunity to keep a Kansas staple like Pat’s going."